Over the next year, James solidified himself as the future face of the NBA, capping his senior year with an Ohio state title, his third out of four.
Anthony wasn’t too shabby himself, leading Syracuse to a national title and becoming the first freshman to win the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.
When the 2003 NBA Draft came around, the two were one pick apart, separated by the utterly disappointing Darko Milicic. James went to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers at number one, while Anthony went to the Denver Nuggets at number three.
They were then entrenched in a long-term duel. Anthony edged out James by .1 point per game and led his team to the playoffs; however, James became Rookie of the Year.
As years would pass, the gap would widen.
James ascended into super-stardom, winning MVPs and making deep runs into the postseason, including a Finals appearance in 2007. Anthony was knocked out of the first round every year, aside from 2009.
By 2010, neither had yet to win the big one. James took his talents to South Beach to join fellow 2003 draft mates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. In 2011, Anthony just about forced his way to the Big Apple to team with Amar’e Stoudemire.
As fortune would have it, Anthony witnessed Stoudemire crumble into a barely walking, injured contract and ran a one-man show with the New York Knicks.
James would make four-straight trips to the big dance, winning two.
Both had disappointing ends to their previous season, with Anthony’s Knicks missing the playoffs and James’ Miami Heat getting slaughtered by the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals.
Both have opted out of their contracts and become free agents, and can sign with teams as early as July 8.
Anthony wants what James has.
James wants what was just taken from him.
The two are good friends, which have sparked rumblings of the two teaming together, possibly in Miami, or even in Phoenix.
The thought of pairing James and Anthony, while unlikely, is quite intriguing; Anthony has yet to play next to a player even remotely close to James’ caliber.
Prediction: James stays; Anthony heads to the Windy City.
With Wade and Bosh opting out, they probably take less and give room to sign more proven role players, which is just enough for James to stay.
Although more money in New York and learning under zen master, and president, Phil Jackson is appealing, Anthony could be the missing piece to the Chicago Bulls. They lack the scoring punch, but they have the perfect cast of defensive players to surround around Anthony. All of this is pending on Derrick Rose’s health, of course.
It’s crazy to think that just over 12 years have passed and both James and Anthony are, once again, the hottest commodities.
Anthony is trying to create a legacy.
James is trying to cement that legacy.
In one week, we’ll see who has a better shot of that.