It was the pair of big smiles that shook the NBA world, but in a good way.
Superstars Stephen Curry and LeBron James played in their first game as teammates at any level in this season’s NBA All-Star game, and though they weren’t on the floor together much, due to James 13 minutes played, the chemistry between the two was noticeably gleeful.
There was Curry getting an up-close look at James’ famous pre-game powder toss at the scorer’s table, and then there was this moment, caught on video after Curry made a 3-pointer, in which he turned completely around before the basketball went in the hoop. He mimicked a move from James earlier in the year, which itself was an homage to Curry and his penchant for not bothering to look the ball in.
And then they smiled like little kids. Check it out.
That was pretty fun to watch. The two have a lengthy history, but relations got weird in the NBA, namely with the four straight times Curry and James battled in the NBA Finals.
James watched Curry play basketball in person when Curry was a national phenomenon at Davidson College, they were both born in Akron, Ohio (Curry was born there because his father, Dell Curry, played NBA basketball briefly in Cleveland), and they’ve been friendly, regardless of outside circumstance. But it’s never been approached “bro-mance” territory as it now has.
Per The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, the moments from the 2021 All-Star game were first forged in 2017. Curry and the Warriors had just won the NBA championship, and Curry said he had no interest in visiting the White House, due to his extreme disagreement with Donald Trump, the former president. James came to Curry’s defense via Twitter, with his well-known “UBum” tweet.
Then in 2018, the two got to talking on the phone, for official All-Star game business, and all those friendly feelings from years past came right back.
Months later, their relationship got back on its former track. In 2018, when the NBA switched to a new format in which the leading vote-getters draft the All-Star teams, it put LeBron and Curry on the phone together for over an hour. They got to selecting players and talking like old friends.
It’s been all love since then.Marcus Thompson/The Athletic
That’s pretty cool. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call. I’m not sure if it was a video chat or a regular phone call, but the old-school call is currently underrated.
So what will Curry and James’ friendship look like moving forward? It will probably settle into normalcy. It could harden further when the Warriors have a resurgence and must face James’ Lakers, but that’s a year away, if it even happens at all. Will they ever be teammates again? Sure. In the All-Star game. Other than that? No way. It’s hard to see that happening. Unless Lebron came to Golden State. Hmmmm.
But seriously, most of all, it was fun to watch a decade’s worth of history play out on the big All-Star stage in the form of two huge, unmistakable, child-like smiles. It was just what the NBA needed as it continues to entertain during difficult times.
(Photo credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)