Is LeBron James obsessed with Steph Curry?
Check out all the shots traded between The King and the champs
Historically, kings have always had to fight to maintain their throne. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is no different.
For the better part of the last decade, James has owned the league, both in terms of skill and popularity. His reign as the NBA’s alpha remained consistent while other pseudo-rivals shifted with each passing season. For years, he’d taken permanent residency on the NBA’s mountaintop — earning the nickname “The King.”
James has had his fair share of foes and peers throughout his career: the Boston Celtics’ Big 3, Paul George and the Indiana Pacers, Derrick Rose and the Bulls, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers and Tim Duncan and the Spurs (even Washington’s Gilbert Arenas, fleetingly).
But never one he hasn’t been able to beat at least once when it mattered most, never one he’s invested this much time, this much energy and this much obsession into. Never one quite like Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
“You guys make rivals,” James said Wednesday downplaying, albeit unsuccessfully, the significance of the star power matchup on the game’s biggest stage. “I think it’s great for the sport. It’s great for all sports. I don’t think me and Steph, when you talk about rivalries, you talk about Carolina-Duke, you talk about Ohio State-Michigan. It’s hard to say LeBron and Steph. If there’s a smaller scale or another word for a rival.”
James has rarely been the chaser, more like the one being chased.
He finished third in MVP voting the past two seasons. Curry not only captured his second straight MVP, he did so unanimously, the first time in league history. James fell one vote shy of the distinction in 2013. James finished second in jersey sales. Curry finished first. And in March, Morgan Stanley predicted Curry’s Under Armor sneakers would outsell James’ signature Nike line.
The mind games — to culminate with this year’s Finals — began before last season’s Finals ended.
Here’s how this game of riv…err, competitors has transpired over the past year.
June 14, 2015: Sitting sluggishly following a Game 5 loss in the Finals — one in which James tallied 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists — his position hadn’t changed. “I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world,” James said. “It’s simple.”
June 16, 2015: Golden State clinched a game later in Cleveland, leaving James to hear the Warriors celebrate and leave Quicken Loans Arena soaked in champagne. Klay Thompson returned James’ perceived shot with a subliminal of his own. “It just feels good to say, you know, we’re the best team in the world with the best player in the world. This man sitting right next to me,” Thompson said, pointing to Curry with a smirk. “Appreciate it, man,” Curry said in near unison.