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Stephen Curry and LeBron James have been involved in their fair share of memorable moments over the years, with the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers meeting in four consecutive NBA Finals. They added to their rivalry this past season when they were involved in a face-to-face confrontation near the end of Game 1, a 124-114 Dubs overtime victory.
As the game wound down, Curry attempted to go in for a meaningless layup, but James was having none of it. The four-time NBA MVP swatted the shot away, and the two exchanged words. (Around 10:01 mark)
“It was never going to spill over to that. But it was an interesting moment …I was hot because I was trying to finish out a possession, I think it was less than a minute left, I didn’t see him coming over from the weak side so I tried to do a little soft scoop layup and he pinned it. Then he stared me down and he said something to me.
“And I was like, ‘That’s what we’re really on right now? We’re about to win and you’re worried about mean-blocking my shot and talking trash?’ And then the whole Tristan and Draymond thing happened and I went back up to him and I was like, ‘Yo, what’s up? Is this really what we’re about right now?’
“And he was like, ‘I gotta do that to make sure my teammates know I’m a mentor’ and it’s a part of his leadership and that type of deal. And I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb for your leadership.’ (laughter). Come on man, that’s messed up.”
James reportedly was “like a mentor” to Curry early on in the former Davidson star’s career. However, as the two have battled for a championship in each of the past four seasons, their relationship has been put under a microscope.
In his book Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry, The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson (h/t Business Insider’s Scott Davis) explained that Curry wasn’t popular among his peers, including with James. And then there’s James’ 2016 Halloween party, which featured a Curry dummy on the floor so guests had to walk over it when they arrived.
There has been no greater on-court tension between the two than that moment in Game 1.
Before Curry dished the details, it had not been known exactly went on in that confrontation. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst previously said on The Lowe Post Show that Curry had approached James in a joking manner but was told to “get the f–k out of [James’] face.”
Even though tempers flared that night (leading to Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson getting ejected), the three-time champion insists there is respect between he and his rival:
“There’s definitely a mutual respect. I would say though when you see guys working out with each other in the summers and you see guys playing pickup and all that — when you step foot on the court during the season, it’s a totally different environment.”
That respect was never more evident than when James stood up for Curry against President Donald Trump, who rescinded Golden State’s White House invitation last year after the Splash Bro said he had no interest in making the trip:
LeBron James @KingJames
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
As for the era of players jumping from team to team to play with their friends, Curry made it known that there is still plenty of competition in the league.
“Guys can be buddies and friends and whatnot and have whatever type of relationship they want to have in the summer and off the court, but the rivalry and competition and egos and all that stuff that lives in an NBA game and when you’re trying to hold that trophy … it’s really there and it’s not going anywhere.”