The stakes weren’t as high this time around, but it always feels like a massive matchup when Steph Curry faces LeBron James.
While Curry has a 3-1 edge in their epic Finals rivalry from the 2010s, James and the Lake Show ended the Warriors’ season Friday – and perhaps started the decline of the dynasty.
After the tough loss, when the Warriors were out of sorts for most of the night, Curry reflected on another six-game battle with his longtime nemesis, LeBron.
“It’s just a battle every time," Curry said. "I know there are a lot of different narratives within each of the series that we’ve had, different teams, and teammates, all of the above. But it’s just great basketball, great competition. Understanding who LeBron is and who he’s been his entire career and the accolades and the championships that he’s won the records that he has. He’s an amazing basketball player and he brings the best out of you.”
Both players will always be compared for each other -- as fans love to debate who this era belongs to. For now, they both have four rings, but LeBron's chance for a fifth remains alive.
While LeBron didn’t pop off or dominate the series offensively, his mere presence in the paint and as a weakside rim protector changed the game for the Warriors. Curry shined all postseason but his supporting cast faltered, especially in the final three road losses in Los Angeles.
After Friday’s game, Steph and LeBron shared an embrace. Curry is 35 and James is 38, and they’re both freak athletes, but this could have been the final time we see the duo face off in the postseason.
The margin for error for the Warriors shrunk this year, until LeBron and Lakers stole their last gasp of air.
“You know you have to be your best if you’re gonna try to beat him and I’m sure he feels vice-versa,” Curry said. “You love those experiences. Somebody’s gotta win, it’s part of the nature of what we’re dealing with. But there's so much respect and appreciation for the battles, the experiences, and the back-and-forths. It's basketball at the highest level. That's all you can ask for.”