LeBron wishes he'd faced Kobe in NBA Finals


The Cleveland Cavaliers' failure to advance to the 2009 NBA Finals still haunts LeBron James, who always wanted to square-off against retiring idol Kobe Bryant in the league's showpiece.

James was reflecting on Bryant's illustrious basketball career after the 37-year-old announced on Sunday he would retire at the end of the season, his 20th in the NBA.

The Cavs and Lakers were expected to meet in the Finals six years ago, but James and Co. fell to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals.

Los Angeles went on to beat the Magic as Bryant claimed the fourth of his five NBA rings.

Looking back on Tuesday, James lamented: "I didn't hold up my end of the bargain in 2009 for the fans, for us, to meet in the Finals.

"I know the world wanted to see it. I wanted it, we wanted it. He held up his end and I didn't hold up my end, and I hate that. I hate that that didn't happen."

Bryant - third on the list for total points scored in the NBA - played in the Finals from 2008 to 2010.

James featured in the Finals with the Cavs and the Miami Heat from 2011 to 2015.

The world wanted Bryant versus James but neither player crossed paths during that period.

James added: "Obviously there was so much made about it, from commercials to media talk, to people just talking about the Lakers versus the Cavs, Kobe versus LeBron, Kobe versus LeBron, Kobe versus LeBron, but I couldn't do that to my team-mates to kind of assume. That's not my job.

"I've seen the stat that since '07 either he has or I've been in the Finals, but we've never matched up. And that definitely sucks. Not only for us two being competitors, wanting to go against each other in the Finals, but also for the fans."