At least one of Steph Curry and LeBron James has been involved in each of the last 10 NBA Finals series, including four straight years in which they went head-to-head for the title. The former is coming off a season in which he played only five games and his team finished in dead last, while the latter is still celebrating winning the NBA championship in the Orlando bubble with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Last season was a unique one for the Curry-James rivalry, in that only one of them played for a legitimate contender. But heading into the upcoming 2020-21 season, the landscape has changed, as both the Lakers and the Warriors (to a lesser extent) are expected to be among the top teams in the West.
It has been decades since Los Angeles and Golden State both were good at the same time, and this season presents an opportunity for that regional rivalry to be taken up another notch or two. But from Curry's perspective, there is no individual rivalry with James to speak of, but rather just two world-class competitors who frequently have been intertwined.
"We did play, the Warriors-Cavs, four years in a row," Curry told Complex's Zach Frydenlund. "It's not that long ago in terms of that whole conversation and whatnot. And now obviously him being in the West, in the same division, and should play them four times in a normal year. But I think at the end of the day, if you get caught up in that, you're already at a disadvantage just because there's so many other teams and other players at the top.
"And what Bron did in the Finals, or in the bubble season this year, and what he continues to do every year -- it's truly remarkable and unbelievable. I love that competition. And whoever that next guy that's going to challenge the top five, top 10 list in the league and all that type of stuff, that's for everybody else to talk about. We know what's up on the court when you see a guy across the way, you know you've got a force to be reckoned with. I want to be in that conversation every year, no matter who it is."
Those four consecutive Finals series between the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers brought plenty of joy and pain to both sides, and both Curry and James obviously were at the center of what transpired. But with Curry now surrounded by a considerably different supporting cast and James now playing for an entirely different franchise, that particular era of the "rivalry" has come to a close -- for the Warriors, at least.
"Forever, it's going to be hard to get rid of the four year back and forth between the Warriors and Cleveland," Curry continued, "but we're moving on."
Curry is focused on what lies ahead of him and Golden State, and for good reason. And if all goes as he and the Warriors hope, Curry and James might soon find themselves in a position to begin a new era of the "rivalry."