When talking about the great NBA rivalries, the ones that stand out are that of the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics’ as well as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s. Others that also come to mind are Michael Jordan and the Detroit Pistons along with the late 90s’ Miami Heat and New York Knicks.

These pairings all have more than one postseason battle under their belt, and these aren’t just your normal playoff matches. The series that these teams and players have shared are fierce and also colorful in their own ways.

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Enter LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Two of the finest that this generation has to offer. These future Hall of Famers have been the most recognizable NBA figures for the longest time. Last night, they figured in an entertaining battle that lived up to the hype, being their final career head-to-head matchup. Given all these, it’s easy to call it as a rivalry based on their stature and what each of them meant to the league.

But Kobe Bryant does not see LeBron James a rival. About a month ago, in Bryant’s final visit to Cleveland, he already stated the same sentiment, and only reiterated it last night, per Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.

“Rivalries aren’t made in the regular season, no matter how much people try to hype it up. You’ve got to duke it out when it really matters. In that sense we never had one. … Me playing LeBron on Christmas Day or playing him on a Tuesday in Cleveland, it meant zero to me. It’s hard for maybe people to understand that, but it meant zero because there was so much pressure I put on myself to get this team to a championship.”

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have figured in 22 head-to-head matchups over the course of their careers, with the former winning 16 of those games. However, all of these were regular season games. Maybe Bryant has a point.

Unfortunately, basketball fans were denied of a finals showdown between James and Bryant, especially when they came closest in 2009. Cleveland and Los Angeles were simply a cut above the rest during that particular season, winning 66 and 65 games, respectively. But, as we all know, the Cavs’ hopes were destroyed in the East finals by the Orlando Magic.

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Maybe, to the basketball gods, the world was never ready for such matchup. But we all got to be thankful for the experience of having watched these two greats go at each other that many times.