LeBron James is not providing the Golden State Warriors with any bulletin board material ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers’ play-in matchup. After years of being rivals, James has made an about-face this season by making sure Steph Curry gets his flowers. James called Curry the NBA MVP after the Lakers-Warriors play-in matchup was cemented.
“We’re playing, in my opinion, the MVP of our league this year in Steph,” James said after the Lakers’ win over the Pelicans. “So, we gotta be prepared for everything that they have. They got championship DNA as well. They’ve been there. They know what it takes and what it feels like to be in pressure games. So, we got to be ready for that opportunity and for that pressure.”
James later elaborated on why he believes Curry should win the MVP this season. The Lakers star admitted that he believes the MVP award will go to another player but did not make a specific prediction.
“I don’t know anything else, if you’re looking for MVP, if Steph is not on Golden State’s team, then what are we looking at?” James added. “We get caught up in the records sometimes. We get caught up in, okay, who has the best record instead of just saying who had the best season that year? And Steph has had, in my opinion, the best season all year, and it was the same when Russ [Russell Westbrook] won the MVP. Russ was the first guy to have a triple-double in a season since the Big O [Oscar Robertson], and everyone threw the records out the window then when he won it. And I think, you look at what he’s [Curry] doing, Russ deserved it that year, and obviously, I don’t think Steph is going to get it because that’s another conversation, but in my eyes, he’s played the best basketball all year round.”
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LeBron Appeared to Recruit Steph During the NBA All-Star Weekend
As the face of the NBA, James’ comments are constantly dissected, and his recent message is sure to be seen by some as another recruiting attempt. Curry has yet to sign a contract extension and is slated to be a free agent during the 2022 offseason. James also praised Curry during the NBA All-Star weekend which ESPN insider Brian Windhorst viewed as the Lakers star sending his best recruiting pitch towards the Warriors guard.
“I thought it was hilarious over All-Star Weekend, LeBron praising Steph up one side and down the other,” Windhorst explained on The Hoop Collective podcast. “How much he loves his game, how much he respects him. LeBron has obviously put the full-court press, not the full-court press. LeBron has obviously begun [the] recruiting of Steph just in the event that he wouldn’t extend and that somehow he would become a free agent and the Lakers would have a swing at him.”
LeBron on Steph: ‘It’s Always Been a Level of Respect That’s Even Beyond the Game of Basketball’
James noted that there has “always been a level of respect” he has had for Curry. The Lakers superstar explained there is also a connection between the two players given they were both born in Akron.
“For our paths to continue to cross in our careers, it’s pretty unique and it’s pretty cool,” James explained. “Both of us being born in Northeast Ohio, born in Akron. I know he spent a lot of his time, obviously, in Charlotte but born in Akron along with me, so we got that DNA. Our paths have been crossed again, and it’s always been a level of respect that’s even beyond the game of basketball the way I feel for Steph.”