“First of all, I made the mistake by even answering the question, because I knew where it was going to go,” James said Wednesday, on the eve of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers. “And I guarantee how it was phrased to Steph wasn’t how I answered the question. So his reaction was what it was. And I’ve been there before as well.
“So Steph was definitely the MVP of our league and is the MVP in our league and is a great basketball player. And what he does for this league is amazing.”
The reality, however, is that James’ statements on Wednesday aren’t radically different from his original response, which were extrapolated into a slight of Curry.
“If you do it by a year-to-year basis, sometimes the word ‘Most Valuable’ or ‘best player of the year’ can have different results,” James said in May. “It’s not taking away from anyone that’s ever won the award. But, I mean, you look at Steph’s numbers – he averaged 30, led the league in steals, he was 90-50-40 and they won 73 wins. Can you have, really, any debate over that? Really? When it comes to that award.
“But when you talk about most valuable, then you can have a different conversation. But take nothing away from him. He’s definitely deserving of that award for sure.”
James clearly was making a distinction between “most valuable player” and “best player of the year,” implying that Curry undoubtedly was the latter. The immediate inference was that he accepted Curry as the best player this season but that the MVP was another matter entirely.
The implication, however, was that James was latently suggesting he was the real MVP. Which could be argued, but one would have to be very skillful to make it convincing on his behalf.
Yet James continued to clarify his initial remarks.
“Then the question I was asked if I had a vote what would be the difference between most valuable and MVP, and I gave my opinion,” he said. “So, obviously, you guys (sports media) ran with it.
“But I don’t know. You guys make rivals. I think it’s great for the sport. It’s great for all sports. I don’t think me and Steph . . . when you talk about rivalries, you talk about Carolina-Duke, you talk about Ohio State-Michigan. It’s hard to LeBron and Steph. If there’s a smaller scale or another word for a rival.”
Pressed on the subject of a rivalry with James, Curry politely passed.
“I’m not in the business of ranking or debating who is what,” he said. “It’s about winning and the fact that we won a championship last year and were the last team standing, obviously is what was most important to me.
“Us being back here against the Cavs again, there are story lines and whatnot that as a basketball fan are pretty cool when you have two teams fighting for the same trophy once again and trying to play at a very high level to help our team get there. That’s all I’m worried about.
“It’s really annoying to me. That’s not what I’m playing for, to be the face of the NBA or to be this or that or to take LeBron’s throne or whatever. I’m trying to chase rings, and that’s all I’m about. So that’s where the conversation stops for me.”
Curry typically offers no verbal rebuttal on his behalf for any slights or criticisms that come his way. He wants the leave that the scoreboards and trophies.