New book explains why LeBron James, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook have disdain for Stephen Curry
Within the last five years, the NBA has taken a vast turnaround, from dominant and storied franchises like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks struggling to find a relevant place in their respective conferences to teams like the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors moving into the upper echelon of the league.
Just as suddenly, the blistering rise of Stephen Curry as one of the best players in the league has taken the NBA by storm, quickly going from being the star playing in his team to one of the most prominent faces of the league.
Marcus Thompson II, a sports journalist who has covered Bay Area sports since 1999, will be releasing his book Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry which will hit shelves on Tuesday. In it, he anecdotes the strange friendship-turned-rivalry relationship with guys like LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook.
James and Curry were friends, with the King taking time to go to his games while he was still in Davidson College, a friendship that carried out through to his first NBA seasons.
The change inevitably happened after the Warriors took an unprecedented leap from playoff hopefuls to the NBA’s best team in 2014-15, taking James’ chance to make his homecoming year a championship year for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Through that season, Curry took everything James had until then — respect, admiration, popularity, and even his new regained adoration since re-joining the Cavs after leaving for the Miami Heat to win a couple of rings.
Curry had taken his game up a few notches and surpassed James as the most popular player in the NBA for two years now by any possible metric – jersey sales, television ratings, and even love from media and fans.
Thompson went in depth about how the relationship between Curry and these fellow superstars turned involuntarily sour.
“Curry takes pride in welcoming all that,” Thompson told Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead in his radio show this weekend, touching on the 2016 NBA Finals trash talk between Curry and James. “Some players might say: ‘LeBron shouldn’t have done that’ … Steph is the type to take pride in being the guy who doesn’t complain. He wants you to say, at the end of his career, I never got involved with all that.”
“There’s a thing with he and LeBron that’s a little weird. There was a time when LeBron and Steph were big brother and little brother and LeBron was like a mentor. He was a big fan of Steph, went to games at Davidson, and even when [Curry] got to the NBA, they had moments where LeBron was looking at him like, ‘wow’ and then Steph kind of challenged LeBron’s status.”
“The part that’s odd for Steph – why does that mean there has to be beef between us? He loves LeBron and respects LeBron, and he’s like, ‘because the outside world is pitting us together, why do you and I have to now have this disdain between us, I thought we were cool? … that’s the question that’s in Curry’s mind and Curry’s camp. Why do you not like me when all I did was basically respect everything you did, and follow the model you carried out? … it’s not just with LeBron … Steph wants to be accepted by all these guys. This is what he worked for. For [them] to say, ‘you’re one of us.’ It seems like they don’t want to give that to him.”
Paul had a similar scenario, as he was one of Curry’s mentors growing up. Curry used to attend CP3’s summer camps and model his game as a point guard from Paul, who is also a North Carolina native.
When asked how many players feel this resentment toward Curry, Thompson was quick to point it out.
“Everybody on the Clippers,” he said. “…Chris Paul was one of those guys. Chris Paul was somebody [Curry] looked up to. Chris Paul used to dominate that matchup. Chris Paul was supposed to be next in line to win a championship. Then, suddenly, it was Steph… that’s another relationship where [Curry] was like, ‘oh, I look up to you,’ and suddenly there is this disdain vs. Steph. There’s a lot of those…”
Thompson emphasized the sudden aspect that Curry had “leapfrogged” these potential Hall of Famers in such a short time had upset them greatly, as if he was unfairly anointed by the NBA without paying his proper dues.
Westbrook seems to resent Curry especially, though it’s unknown just how good of a relationship the two really had due to his ultra-competitive nature and normal disdain for his competition.
Regardless, Stephen Curry’s meteoric rise has not sat well with most of these stars, and while the media has loved every bit of it — they feel it’s the love and attention they should have been getting all these years.