Kendrick Perkins doesn't buy the notion that Steph Curry and LeBron James' respective greatness is mutually exclusive.
Curry's Warriors battled James' Cleveland Cavaliers in four consecutive NBA Finals last decade, with their championship clashes serving as a referendum on their standing in relation to the other in the eyes of some fans and media. James is a Los Angeles Laker now, but old habits die hard, and the Curry vs. LeBron framing has continued.
That's not how Perkins views the discussion surrounding both stars, at least.
"[No] knock on Steph, but him and LeBron aren't in the same conversation," the 14-year NBA veteran and current ESPN NBA analyst told Grant Liffmann on the latest episode of the "Dubs Talk" podcast.
"When I pump up LeBron personally, or I say something, or I give LeBron James his flowers, I don't even measure him to no one else in the league. I'm measuring him to all-time greats and GOAT status. LeBron James sits at a table alone, as far as with current players. When you talk about his accolades, I don't even compare him with nobody else that's playing right now. He's sitting at the table with Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and [Shaquille O'Neal] and those guys. This is the conversation I'm talking about."
Perkins played with James for parts of two seasons in Cleveland, but he told Liffmann that the pair met in the seventh grade. They famously played on the Oakland Soldiers together in AAU, and have been close for over two decades at this point. Perkins has often praised James since becoming an analyst, and he quipped that neither James nor his agency, Klutch Sports, are sending him a check to do so.
The 36-year-old's consistent adulation of James reflects what Perkins believes to be the four-time NBA Finals MVP's place in the pantheon of basketball history. Curry has a place there, too, Perkins said, albeit not one as high as James.
"Now, I give Steph his flowers all the time," Perkins continued. "Matter of fact, I was on record as saying that ... Steph Curry will be a top-10 player of all time. I strongly believe that. Because he's gonna be the greatest shooter of all time, he changed the game. I said that. Steph Curry changed the game for people like Trae Young. He made it cool for you to pull up from the logo. When we thought it was [a bad shot], Steph made it OK [and a good shot]. You see guys today pulling up from the logo like [Damian Lillard], even 'Bron. It's never a shot at Steph."
Even with James defying Father Time on a nightly basis, he's closer to the end of his career than the beginning. In all likelihood, there's only (at most) a handful of seasons in which Curry and James will share a court as opponents. Curry is 32, while James is 36.
If praise of James in relation to Curry seems overblown, Perkins says it's because people are trying to appreciate James' greatness before he retires.
"That's just people honoring and giving a guy flowers because we know, in a minute, the game is gonna miss him when he walks away from it," Perkins said of James.