LeBron James is widely regarded as one of, if not the greatest player in NBA history. Juan Toscano-Anderson of the Golden State Warriors is a 28-year-old guard still getting his NBA feet wet.
Even so, when the former Marquette Golden Eagle had a chance to match up with King James in the Lakers vs. Warriors Play-In Tournament contest in May, he wasn’t going to let his chance at dishing out some smack talk slip away.
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Toscano-Anderson recently appeared on the Real Ones podcast with Logan Murdock and Raja Bell, and detailed the back-and-forth with James.
“It was a really dope experience,” Toscano-Anderson said. “I was kind of having out-of-body experiences at the same time because this is something I’ve always dreamed of, you know, playing at this level.
“When I was talking s**t to him … I’m mad because I let him score. I should have fouled him instead of letting him score. But it’s LeBron James, one of the best players in the world. But I’m like ‘I’m here. What’s up? You gotta score on me, you gotta show me.’ He showed me, but that felt fun to be able to talk s**t to LeBron and after he scored on the way back down, he was like ‘Man, that was great defense but I’m the best player in the world.'”
JTA Received Praise This Season From Superstars Like Durant, CP3
Just days before the critical Play-In Tournament bout against the defending champions, Toscano-Anderson was handsomely rewarded with a standard NBA contract. After playing abroad for more than three years, battling it out in the G-League for two seasons, and playing on a two-way contract with Golden State, it was a long journey for the California native.
In addition to the new contract, other confidence-boosters came during the 2020-2021 campaign by way of conversations with some NBA superstars.
“I went into that game like, I belong here, I’m here,” Toscano-Anderson said on the podcast. “I was starting to gain my own confidence naturally, but then after we played the [Phoenix] Suns a few days before that, Chris Paul came up to me and was like ‘Man, I respect you, I respect dogs, I respect your story, how you got in this league.’ I got words from [Kevin Durant], a lot of guys from around the league.”
Could a Lakers/Warriors Rivalry Be Brewing for Next Season?
After combining for four of the last six NBA championships, the Lakers and Warriors have been used to the ultimate amount of success in recent years. Even the two seasons since 2015 that didn’t result in Los Angeles or Golden State on top featured some combination of LeBron winning it all (2016 Cleveland Cavaliers) or the Dubs making the NBA Finals (2019).
That trend has obviously ended this year, but with arguably the two faces of basketball still on their rosters in LeBron James and Stephen Curry, there wasn’t a lot extra needed to see that a rivalry between the clubs could be forming. According to James’ sidekick Anthony Davis though, the comments from Toscano-Anderson during the Play-In game “poked the bear” and helped lead the Lakers to the comeback victory.
Having only just completed his second season in the Association and with a mere 66 games of experience under his belt, it appears that the Warriors hometown favorite has been doing what he can to get involved in this potentially budding rivalry.