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During Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, LeBron James and Stephen Curry started jawing at each other with less than a minute left in overtime after James blocked Curry’s layup attempt, and Curry says he didn’t appreciate James staring him down and talking smack.
Curry was joined by Klay Thompson and the two Warriors stars were going back and forth with James. On The Bill Simmons podcast, Curry explained what triggered him to get upset with James.
“I was hot because I was trying to finish out a possession,” Curry said. “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?’ 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 I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb for your leadership. Come on man, that’s messed up.’ ”
James and Curry definitely have an on-court rivalry. The two superstars have squared off in the last four Finals, with Curry and the Warriors winning three of them.
Curry, though, admits that the respect between he and James has always been there.
“There’s definitely a mutual respect,” Curry said. “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. Guys can be buddies and friends 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.”
Now that James is in the Western Conference, he will be seeing a lot more of Curry. The Warriors and Lakers will face each other four times in the regular-season.