[dropcap letter="N"]othing drums up interest for a casual fan of any given sport than seeing a dream match come to life. For example, how many basketball fans would give their right arm for a matchup between the 1992 US Dream Team led by Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan, versus the 2012 Team USA led by Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James?
Unfortunately, those dream matches never even had a chance to happen because the primes of both teams passed each other. Heck, by the time James got to the NBA, Bird was already president for basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers.
What we want to look at instead are dream matches that could have happened, but due to various circumstances, simply never did. And most likely never will. Here are just 8 picks of mine, and I'd love to hear yours in the comments.
The Hook: Half of the people who know nothing about NU keep insisting that the University of the Philippines is the National University, not NU. If Ateneo and La Salle could have a rivalry for reasons we probably don't even understand by now, why shouldn't these two?
The Catch: Remind me again when either of these teams made it to the Final Four, let alone the Finals? Sure, NU made it last year, and they look to be making it again this season, but prior to that, their last Final Four appearance was in 2001, and their last Finals appearance was in freaking 1954, the only time they ever had a men's basketball championship. Meanwhile, UP has...an amazing cheerdance team.
Likelihood to Still Happen: 9/10. It's only a matter of time before both teams coincidentally become competitive enough to hit the finals, right? We're just playing the odds here.
The Hook: In 1997, two of the biggest action stars in Hollywood at the time almost had a real fight at a Miami party held by Sylvester Stallone, which sounds like the awesomest party ever.
The Catch: Fortunately (or unfortuantely), cooler heads prevailed when Seagal apologized to Van Damme and proceeded to dodge the fight he was initially goading JCVD into. The two are still frenemies (I hate that word, but it's funny when attached to these guys) who banter with each other every now and then, but it doesn't seem like a fight between the two of them would ever happen.
Likelihood to Still Happen: 5/10. Expendables 4 could figure something out especially since Seagal is open to the idea of appearing in the action franchise. I know Van Damme's character is dead since the second film, but it's not like we watch the Expendables flicks because the scripts make sense.
The Hook: Two of the best technical wrestlers who have yet to retire, seeing these two go at it would be a great treat for any wrestling fan who wants to watch something comparable to Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit without the awkwardness of seeing a child-murderer inside the ring.
The Catch: Daniel Bryan is currently injured, and we have yet to know when he will come back and how well he would perform once he's back. Kurt angle is making overtures to the WWE to return once his contract is up, but who knows when anything would come out of that?
Likelihood to Still Happen: 7/10. I honestly believe this depends on the health of both competitors. Kurt Angle may not make it past the battery of medical tests the WWE would want him to take before letting him wrestle again, and Daniel Bryan might never be the same again after all these surgeries. Once the health issue are cleared, though, the WWE would be stupid to not put these two together at some point before Angle retires.
The Hook: Michael Jordan came back after two years of the Rockets dominating the NBA. Sure, he was there to see the second win, but only because his team fell to Orlando in the Playoffs. Many people feel that Olajuwon's two rings needed asterisks because Jordan wasn't really around to do anything about it, but Hakeem could have proven himself once and for all if he did his own three-peat in 1996, or at least beat the Bulls in 1995, had MJ's team made it that far.
The Catch: Well, we all know that never happened, since it was Orlando-Houston in '95 and then Seattle was the Finals opponent for the Bulls in '96. Hakeem will go down as one of the greatest ever, but unlike Bird vs. Johnson, Jordan never had a contemporary to be compared against during his era. It was never remotely close.
Likelihood to Still Happen: 0/10. Unless you mean a Chicago-Houston Finals in general, that window of opportunity to see a 7-game series between Jordan and Olajuwon has clearly passed us already,
The Hook: Kobe Bryant has made a name for himself with his between-the-legs dunk early on in his career. James has teased for years to finally put his name in the hat for the Slam Dunk Contest during the All-Star Weekend since he was a rookie. Would it have been too much to ask these two guys to just wow us with a slam dunk showdown for the ages, even just once?
The Catch: Apparently it has been too much, since Kobe hasn't made a Slam Dunk Contest appearance since '97, and James has yet to make even one.
Likelihood to Happen: 1/10. A blaze of glory moment for Kobe this coming season, maybe? If it doesn't happen by then, the likelihood of a slam dunk competition between Kobe and LeBron approaches 0, since Kobe's likely hanging it up after two years.
The Hook: Two men who lay claim to being the greatest boxer of all time, especially if you decide to ignore the heavyweights in the equation. This is a payday that would set these guys for life for the next three generations. It is that profitable as a dream fight everyone is chomping at the bit to see happen.
The Catch: The fight nearly happened in 2010, but as Mayweather approaches the 49-0 record held by Rocky Marciano, and Pacquiao continues to bog down his schedule with politics and now the PBA, it is clear that neither is prioritizing meeting each other in the ring at this point. Pacquiao, Arum, and even HBO and Showtime seem to all want it to happen, but Mayweather is noncomittal about it at best. Can't risk having his streak being broken. Just look at the Undertaker.
Likelihood to Happen: 2/10. They have two years to pull it off, at the rate things are going. Keep your fingers crossed, but don't hold your breath for it.
The Hook: The biggest draws of their respective eras, Hogan and Austin never really got a chance to wrestle each other. We've seen Rock vs. Hogan. We've seen Rock vs. Austin. We've seen Rock vs. Cena. But we have not seen Hogan vs. Austin, which, to my mind, would be a bigger deal than Hogan vs. Cena, which could possibly happen if Hogan ever decided to do one more match to "pass on the torch," because in his mind, he clearly has yet to let it go.
The Catch: The two can't exactly stand each other. Had they both been younger and active, I'm sure Vince would have figured out a way to push all that aside, but now that both have cemented their respective legacies, neither has any motivation to pursue a match. Besides, Austin has been vocal about not really wanting to wrestle again.
Likelihood to Happen: 0/10. Even if they wrestled each other, would it even be considered a match or a downright disaster, considering both men's physical limitations?
The Hook: It was 2009. Brock Lesnar. Heavyweight champion of the UFC. Fedor Emelianenko. PRIDE Heavyweight champion, undefeted, and often considered the pound for pound best mixed martial artist in the world. Both at the top of their game. Both not afraid to take each other on. This fight had to happen.
The Catch: But it didn't. Negotiations got progressively more ludicrous by the minute, according to UFC head Dana White. It seemed that Fedor's handlers were either overestimating how much they could bilk from Dana, or they simply didnt' want to risk Fedor's mystique at a time when Brock Lesnar seemed unstoppable. Then next thing you know, both men started losing.
Likelihood to Happen: 0/10. They're both retired now, and the only chance for them to fight would probably be in a WWE ring, and that is a possibility nobody has even bothered considering by now, since Fedor is virtually irrelevant in 2014.