Much has been made this offseason about LeBron James and the fact that he might have some extra fuel in the tank after missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Many people, for the first time in a while, started to say he clearly wasn’t the best player in the league anymore. This can be evidenced by many player power rankings that have come out, including ESPN’s Top 100 NBARank list, that had LeBron James third behind Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Many fans thought that this may give The King a little chip on his shoulder, and honestly, his comments during Media Day seemed to slightly confirm this. However, another NBA superstar isn’t going to entertain this notion, saying that you don’t get to LeBron’s place in the league by needing extra motivation to go out there and dominate. That superstar was Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who had this to say to Sam Amick of The Athletic regarding possible extra motivation for LeBron:
(Amick): Yeah, I mean you guys love that ‘something to prove’ thing, and he has that too now, right? Not individually, necessarily, but…
(Curry): (Shrugs) Yeah.
You’re not buying that? Is it that his legacy’s set, so that doesn’t matter?
I mean the opportunity is there, right? There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be successful, whether it’s winning the championship or whatever it is. But in terms of (pauses)… You don’t get to – and I would put myself in that category – but you don’t get to be a guy like LeBron and need any extra type of (motivation at this stage). Like, I’m sure he came in last year with the same optimism, motivation and edge. This year there’s just a little more hoopla around the team because of who they have on the squad. And like I said, the five months of waiting to get back out on the floor when you’re used to playing in June vs. coming out in April and having this amount of time to get ready, I mean there’s probably going to be a different look in your eye, in that respect. But we all love the game and there’s a sense of urgency (later in your career) for sure.
It’s funny, Curry seems to start downplaying this idea that LeBron might have extra motivation, before listing out pretty clear reasons why LeBron might actually have something extra to prove this year.
However, I definitely see where he’s coming from. If comments from random NBA player rankings are what ultimately drive you to be great, well, you’re probably not great to start with. It’s an interesting comment from a superstar who is probably one of the few players in the league that can even come close to relating to LeBron in regards to media scrutiny.
Either way, whether LeBron feels he has something new to prove this season as he enters his 17th year, I don’t care. I’m sure he will come out with that same extreme intensity as he does every single season he’s laced them up.