On the surface, the 21-year-old wasn’t affected by losing to Steph Curry and the Warriors. LeBron James wanted nothing more than to compete against another team that had stifled him before. And while the players had spoken at length about prioritizing a conversation with the organization, James immediately dove into one.
“If they’re the same team that [Steph] played against seven years ago and he doesn’t feel like he has to win a championship, then we all understand that,” James said at a charity event Tuesday. “When that happens, you become a man. We all understand it and for me, that’s something that I’m very, very grateful for.”
…And one Wednesday night, he and his Los Angeles Lakers went up against the reigning champions, the most talented team in the world.
James called Stephen Curry “the greatest player ever,” and his opponent said the Warriors “expect that to happen.”
“I really respect [Curry],” said James. “Last year he played against us. When I watch and watch the game again, he’s gonna go out there and play well. … But we’re playing the best team that we’ve played all year.”
James set the tone for the game. He was the best player on the court, from the moment he stepped to the free throw line, on the team. After the free throw cycle started, he worked his way up the floor, matched up with Curry on a myriad of passing plays, driving to the basket, running with the ball. He was relentless, savoring every moment.
But despite the moment of perfection, James said he wasn’t ready to stop watching the game.
“I’m not gonna back off,” he said. “I see the greatness, and I know for a fact that they’re the greatest player ever.”