Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
Coming into these NBA playoffs, the consensus around the league was that LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers best all around player in the NBA today. At the time, it was hard to argue this fact as he led his team to the number one overall seed in the league and in the Eastern Conference for the second straight season.
As if being the best team in the league for the second straight year throughout the regular season wasn’t enough to convince people that LeBron was the best player, he also won his second straight MVP award as a result of his dominant play on both sides the floor this season.
Despite the consensus being that LeBron James the best player on the planet today, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant still had a legitimate case as the best player in the world as he has four rings and arguably the ACTUAL best team in the league.
Much like any other media outlet in the world, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and sports news in general just loves talking about LeBron James as he was the new hot thing in league and a very marketable commodity for the NBA.
Even though LeBron James skills are undeniable, he has still yet to prove himself in the playoffs as he is still without an NBA title and when it is all said and done might go down as one of the best players ever to play the game without championship ring.
Most people believed that the Cleveland Cavaliers would get all the way to the NBA Finals this time around as it made key additions to their roster in the offseason and in the regular season by adding Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison to the mix in Cleveland.
Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be case as the Cavs were absolutely dominated by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs and went home much earlier than anticipated.
Of course, with all this pressure and media hype, the one player take the fall for all this is LeBron James and deservedly so as he was unable to put the team on his back and lead them to victory when they needed it the most.
Los Angeles Lakers on the other hand were still fighting it out as they struggled against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, but ultimately advanced to the second round face the Utah Jazz.
Needless to say, Utah Jazz posed little to no threat to the defending champs as Kobe Bryant and company cruised to their third straight Western Conference Finals by sweeping the Jazz 4-0.
During the end of the NBA regular season and throughout the first round of the playoffs, many people started saying that Kobe Bryant was on the downside of his career and was no longer the dominant player we all know. Obviously, this kind of talk motivates the great players and Kobe took that motivation and put on a show in the Western Conference Finals.
After the West Finals and Kobe Bryant’s brilliant performances, the consensus around the league may have changed back to the Black Mamba being arguably the best player in the world once again.
The one player that would challenge Kobe Bryant as the MVP of these playoffs could be the Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, but after what Kobe did in games five and six in the Western
Conference Finals, no other player could come even close to Bryant in that category.
The NBA Finals will be the true test though as the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers will go head to head with their archrivals in the Boston Celtics once again!