LeBron James has had plenty of rivalries throughout his long NBA career. He had a ton of intense battles against Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics. He, of course, also had somewhat of a rivalry with the Indiana Pacers, as well as San Antonio Spurs, because of the fact that he faced both of them in the playoffs/NBA Finals in consecutive seasons. However, one of James’ fiercest rivalries came when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he faced the Golden State Warriors in four straight NBA Finals. Now, James might actually reignite that rivalry with the Warriors but while on the LA Lakers. This could all happen on Christmas Day, too.
LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors had a fierce rivalry
During the four seasons that made up LeBron James’ second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James and the Cavs played the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in each of those seasons.
In the first meeting, James didn’t have Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love, but the Cavs still took the Warriors to six games before Golden State went on to win the title. James had an incredible series, too, as he averaged 35.8 points per game, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists.
The second meeting was legendary, though. The Warriors had 73 wins in the regular season during 2015-16 and got out to a 3-1 series lead. However, James, Irving, and Love led the Cavaliers all the way back to help them win the title in seven games.
The Warriors added Kevin Durant the next season, though, and won the 2017 NBA Finals in five games, and the 2018 Finals in four games. James, though, was still difficult to stop. He averaged 33.6 points per game, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in the 2017 Finals, and 34 points, 10 assists, and 8.5 rebounds during the 2018 NBA Finals.
While the Cavaliers and Warriors had fierce battles on the court, the rivalry made its way off the court, too.
Klay Thompson called James out during the 2016 Finals, saying his feelings must have gotten hurt in Game 4. James then later reportedly trolled the Warriors during his Halloween party after coming back and winning the series.
James’ rivalry with the Warriors was fierce and entertaining, but it has no longer been a thing in each of the last two seasons.
His rivalry with the Golden State Warriors has been irrelevant
James left the Cavaliers and went to the LA Lakers during the summer of 2018. However, the Lakers missed the playoffs during James’ first season there. The Warriors ended up going back to the NBA Finals that year but lost to the Toronto Raptors.
Last season, though, the Warriors no longer had Kevin Durant, as he went to the Brooklyn Nets. Klay Thompson also didn’t play due to injury, and Stephen Curry only played in five games. They only went 15-50 overall.
The Lakers, on the other hand, ended up winning the NBA title with James and Anthony Davis.
So, each of the last two years, James’ rivalry with the Warriors has been irrelevant because the Lakers and Warriors haven’t been good at the same time.
However, now, it could get reignited — on Christmas, too.
LeBron James could reignite his rivalry while on the LA Lakers
The Warriors are expected to be a top team this year. Thompson and Curry should be healthy, and the team has the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. This means that the Warriors could have Curry, Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and either a veteran star or a star rookie depending on what they do with their draft pick.
This is while the Lakers will likely look to defend their NBA title with James, Davis, and potentially another star, or at least an improved roster from last season’s championship-winning team. So, this means that the Warriors and Lakers both should contend for a title this year, and James’ rivalry with the Warriors could soon get reignited. It could happen as early as Christmas Day, too.
The 2020-21 NBA season starts on Dec. 22, and the Lakers and Warriors could reportedly play on Christmas.
“I think the game that you will see as the centerpiece game [on Christmas] will be Warriors-Lakers,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently said, according to NBC Sports. “The reason [for] that is not only do you bring Steph Curry and Klay Thompson back … but also you’re gonna have — unless the Warriors make a big trade — a top-three pick in this draft to be displayed, possibly in his first game. It could be James Wiseman’s first game, in addition to the defending champion Lakers. That’s a delicious matchup.”
We could again see a classic LeBron James-Golden State Warriors battle this season. It appears that we could see it as soon as Christmas Day, too. Santa can’t visit soon enough.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference