LeBron, Steph reflect on their epic battles after latest thriller

NBC Sports Bay Area

Lakers star LeBron James had plenty of praise for Steph Curry after the Warriors guard scored 46 points in Golden State’s 145-144 double-overtime loss to Los Angeles on Saturday at Chase Center.

It was the latest chapter of a years-long saga between the two greats, with each showcasing why they’re considered among the best basketball players of all time. The privilege of playing against Curry isn’t lost on James, as he told ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the game.

“It’s something that you will truly take all in when you’re done playing and be able to watch with your grandkids and say that I played against one of the best players to ever play this game,” James told Salters of Curry. “Steph, after the game, came to me and said, ‘How does it keep getting better? How do we keep getting better?’

“I think it’s just a true testament to us putting the work in and being true to the game … and just getting back to it.”

James, 39, finished the game with 36 points, 12 assists and a career-high 20 rebounds, and sank two free throws at the end of the game to secure the Lakers’ win. It was another heartbreaking defeat for the Warriors, and Curry’s near-50-point effort was wasted in the loss.

But even though Curry ripped his jersey as he walked off the court, he took a few moments beforehand to speak with one of his longest adversaries — and friends.

And after the loss, Curry agreed with James that they will look back on their matchups for years to come.

“Every year that we get to do this, the back-and-forth, the battles, from all the Finals runs to the playoffs last year, after the horn sounded tonight, there was a little laugh of you can’t imagine the scenario where a game like tonight happens,” Curry told reporters after the loss. “He’s year, what, 22? I’m Year 15. All the other guys in the league that have been doing it 15-plus years, [Kevin Durant], [Chris Paul], it’s insane.

“You look forward to the battles, but you also appreciate the mutual respect of what it takes to keep doing what you’re doing at this level, because only a few people know how hard it is. I’m happy to be in that group.”

The Warriors’ loss to the Lakers was the first time ever Curry and James have gone to overtime during the regular season — just the latest in a storied legacy of all-time great games between the two living legends. The two have faced off in the playoffs five times, including four straight NBA Finals series against each other from 2015 to 2018, when James was on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Every matchup has been must-watch basketball, and Saturday night at Chase Center was no different. Curry’s fellow Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, has had a front-row seat over the years, and reflected on the opportunity to face James alongside his Warriors teammate.

“It’s been since 2015, nine years,” Thompson told reporters after the game. “That’s incredible. Credit to LeBron for what he’s doing at his age. I mean, guy’s a freak of nature as far as his ability to just play at this level for so long. Same with Steph. When you’re younger, you don’t ever really think that basketball will stop because it’s what you love; it’s all you you do.

“But when you do get in your 30s, you realize there’s an endpoint to being an athlete. Knowing that, I am very grateful to be stepping on the floor with those guys and play against LeBron.”

There’s no telling when Curry and James’ final game against each other will be. But here’s to hoping Golden State’s loss on Saturday night wasn’t the last epic battle between them.

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