Since LeBron James entered the NBA, he has been one of the most polarizing figures in the league. As he ascended to superstardom, casual and hard-core fans quickly realized he was the sun in the NBA’s solar system. He moved the meter for good and bad reasons, and regardless of where you stand, there’s always something to talk about.
However, there have been a few players who have briefly grab the spotlight from James, and one of them has stood out more than the others. Stephen Curry went from a lightly recruited guard out of Davidson to one of the best shooters in league history.
For a long time, Curry and LeBron did not get along, and there were a number of factors behind their mutual dislike. Now that they get along relatively well, let’s look at why LeBron James didn’t like Stephen Curry and what turned things around in their relationship.
The Golden State dynasty was born
As James was creating a dynasty in Miami, the Warriors were using three excellent draft picks to shape their future. They selected Steph Curry with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft and Klay Thompson with the No. 11 pick in the 2011 draft. They also stole Draymond Green in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft.
Anyone watching basketball knew that Curry and Thompson were developing into excellent players. Curry had long range and Thompson was the best catch & shoot player in the NBA who also handles the opposing teams best perimeter offensive weapon. As the buzz around the Warriors grew, it was clear that they were taking the spotlight away from LeBron James.
During the Warriors’ first run at the championship, Curry was a highlight reel each and every game. He averaged 23.8 points and 7.7 assists per game, while the Warriors beat the Cavaliers in the 2015 Finals. One of the other major reasons for LeBron’s dislike for Steph Curry was his MVP award in 2016.
Curry was the first unanimous MVP in league history after the 2015-16 season, and James reportedly harbored resentment at the accomplishment. Curry averaged 30.1 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.4 rebounds as he won his second straight MVP award.
During the 2016 NBA finals rematch between the two teams, you could clearly see that LeBron James was determined to show the voters who selected Curry that they were wrong.
During their run to the finals in 2016, the Warriors were down three games to one against Oklahoma City. They somehow miraculously pulled off the comeback in one of the best western conference finals ever.
As they prepared for their rematch with Cleveland it seemed like the Warriors would win another easy title. They were up three games to one, but a suspension by Draymond Green left them down a key man in game five. That was the opening that Cleveland needed.
The Cavaliers forced a game seven and James put up one of the great performances in league history. He made an unforgettable play blocking Andre Iguodala’s layup, and once Kyrie Irving hit the dagger three over Steph Curry the Cavaliers became the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA finals.
Kevin Durant joins the Warriors
After the shocking loss to Cleveland, Golden State signed former MVP Kevin Durant. He won two straight NBA finals MVPs as the Warriors won back-to-back titles against James’ and the Cavaliers in 2017 and 2018.
The dislike disappeared
After Golden State won the title in 2017, Steph Curry and the Warriors declined their championship visit at the White House.
After Curry made the statement and the president rescinded the offer, LeBron James chimed in. His tweet to the commander-in-chief was heard and seen by every player in the league.
They still have a competitive rivalry, but the days where LeBron James didn’t like Stephen Curry are over. Both players are first-ballot Hall of Famers, and you would be hard pressed not to keep them on your list of 10 of the greatest players ever.