The NBA got its wish with a Warriors-Los Angeles Lakers matchup in Wednesday’s No. 7/No. 8 seed play-in game for the Western Conference.
After a two-season hiatus, Steph Curry and LeBron James will meet once again in the playoffs. Only the victory prize won’t be an NBA championship, merely a ticket to the first round and some extra rest.
James recently said that Curry should be MVP for the way he lit up the league and for leading the Warriors back to the playoffs. Curry told reporters Tuesday that he's grateful for the gesture from his longtime rival.
“Obviously, I’m appreciative,” Curry said via video conference. ”He knows when he says something that people pay attention. So for him to speak on my MVP candidacy is definitely -- I respect him for it, I appreciate it.”
The duo squared off in four straight NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018 when James was with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They might dap it up and be friendly before tip-off, but you know neither guy is stepping on that floor thinking they’re the second-best player.
“We all know as competitors, though, when the lights are on, I can talk about how great he is until I’m blue in the face and he could do the same,” Curry said. “It doesn’t change how we approach that competition when we’re out there. I won’t be giving him a pass because he likes the way I play this year and vice-versa.”
A reporter asked Curry if he thought James’ motivations for calling him MVP were genuine or part gamesmanship, and the Warriors superstar had to laugh.
“No matter if it’s him, it’s me, whoever it is, there’s always another element of analytics or analyzing what we say and how we say it and when we say it,” Curry said. “LeBron’s no stranger to that, neither are we. … It’s great for the entertainment value of what we do. I kinda love the chatter because it’s hilarious and it’s all small at the same time. It’ll make for a good show tomorrow.”
Steph vs. LeBron. Doesn't get much better than that.
While Curry might be a longshot win his third career NBA MVP with the way Nikola Jokic played this year, it's cool to see James and Curry showing mutual respect before their showdown.