Many players have tried to get under LeBron James‘ skin throughout his NBA career. Lance Stephenson and Draymond Green are two that instantly come to mind. However, James had a beef during his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers that ended with one of the greatest rappers of all time releasing a diss track. That rapper was the one and only Jay-Z.
LeBron James’ dominance against the Wizards led to a feud with DeShawn Stevenson
In three consecutive seasons, LeBron James and the Cavs faced the Washington Wizards in the playoffs. James dominated Washington, too.
In a 4-2 first-round win in 2006, James averaged 35.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. The Cavs then swept the Wizards in the first round the next season in 2007, and James averaged 27.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists.
Losing to the same team in consecutive years was probably pretty frustrating for Washington. This led to former Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson, a career 7.2 points-per-game scorer, taking a shot at James.
“He’s overrated. And you can say I said that,” Stevenson said after a regular-season game in March 2008, according to The Undefeated.
James then later received a question about Stevenson’s comment prior to the playoff matchup, and LBJ had an interesting answer.
“With DeShawn Stevenson, it’s kind of funny. It’s almost like Jay-Z [responding to a negative comment] made by Soulja Boy. It doesn’t make sense to respond,” he said, according to The Undefeated.
Well, that’s certainly a shot at Soulja Boy.
So, of course, Soulja Boy then attended Game 3 of the 2008 first-round series. He waved towels and did the famous dance to his hit song, Crank That, while watching the Wizards win big, 108-72.
Jay-Z wrote a diss track to defend The King
Soulja Boy and Stevenson won the Game 3 battle, but they weren’t the ones who won the war.
LeBron James and Jay-Z became friends in James’ rookie season with the Cavs. According to The Undefeated, with all the drama going on in the series, the legendary rapper decided to stick up for his pal and rapped over the instrumental to Too $hort’s Blow the Whistle.
It wasn’t an ordinary track, either.
“LeBron was special to him,” Too $hort later said in 2017, according to The Undefeated. “And ol’ boy [Stevenson] stepped on LeBron’s toes … and Jay was like, ‘I’m going to shut this down.’”
Jay-Z’s song then debuted while Wizards players were at a nightclub in D.C., and within the lyrics of the track, he agreed with The King, saying, “We so big we ain’t gotta respond,” per The Undefeated. Jay-Z also addressed Stevenson’s claim that James was overrated: “If anything they underpaid him.” His most ruthless line, though, essentially said that Stevenson better stop “hatin’” or James was going to spend time with the “chick” he had “been datin’.”
No, he didn’t actually use Stevenson’s name in the song, but everyone knew who he was referring to.
The Cavs then won the series in six games, and James averaged 29.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. Stevenson, on the other hand, averaged 12.3 points and shot 36.7% from the field.
DeShawn Stevenson later won in the NBA Finals over LeBron James
Let’s be clear. James got the last laugh. He is one of the greatest NBA players of all time and is in the GOAT conversation with Michael Jordan. Stevenson, on the other hand, never even earned an All-Star selection.
However, Stevenson played on the Dallas Mavericks in 2010-11, and the Mavs played James and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals that year. While the Heat were the favorites, Dallas ended up winning the series in six games. Stevenson averaged seven points in those games, while James averaged 17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.8 assists.
That trip to the Finals was ultimately the first of eight straight and nine in 10 seasons for James. He has since won four NBA titles. Stevenson, on the other hand, hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2012-13 and averaged 7.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists for his career. That’s compared to James’ averages of 27 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists.
The two of them may be on completely different levels, but at least the DeShawn Stevenson-LeBron James beef gave NBA fans some entertainment during that 2008 postseason.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference