In many ways, the rivalry between Stephen Curry and LeBron James has defined an era of NBA basketball.
Two of the greatest players that have ever played the game, Curry and James are the epitome of the idols-to-rivals dynamic. Despite the fact that Curry joined the league six years after James, the two have been on the same plane for nearly a decade now.
While their rivalry came to the forefront in the 2015 NBA Finals, their relationship dates back much further. Take a look back at the evolving dynamic of Curry and James through the years.
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LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry rivalry timeline
March 28, 2008 — After scoring 70 points during the first weekend of March Madness, sophomore Stephen Curry had taken the basketball world by storm, leading Davidson to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1969.
Conveniently, Davidson would face Wisconsin at Detroit’s Ford Field one day before the Cavaliers were set to visit the Pistons. With LeBron James’ NBA team in town, he was front and center to watch Curry go off for 33 points as the Wildcats’ Cinderella run would continue into the Elite Eight.
Dec. 6, 2008 — A Saturday doubleheader at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable began with a meeting between Davidson and NC State and was followed later in the evening by a meeting between the then-Bobcats and Cavaliers. With James and Curry playing in the same city again, James was again front and center to witness Curry in person.
With James in attendance, Curry went off for 44 points as Davidson moved to 6-1 on the season with a win over the Wolfpack.
Nov. 17, 2009 — LeBron James and Stephen Curry go head-to-head for the first time as professionals as the Cavaliers hold off the Warriors for a 114-108 win.
James finished with 31 points, 12 assists and five rebounds while Curry scored 14 points and dished out seven assists.
Dec. 12, 2012 — After losing the first three meetings, Stephen Curry gets his first win over LeBron James courtesy of a game-winning layup from Draymond Green.
Jan. 2, 2014 — For the first time, Stephen Curry outscores LeBron James in a head-to-head meeting. Curry’s 36 points lead the Warriors to a nine-point win over the Heat, who were led by James’ 26 points.
Feb. 16, 2014 — Stephen Curry makes his NBA All-Star debut, pitting him against LeBron James on the All-Star stage for the first time.
June 4, 2015 — The Warriors and Cavaliers meet in the NBA Finals, marking the first postseason meeting between Stephen Curry and LeBron James.
June 16, 2015 — Despite 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists from LeBron James, Stephen Curry and the Warriors capture the franchise’s first NBA title in 40 years, defeating the Cavs 105-97 in Game 6 of the Finals.
June 2, 2016 — Round 2.
For the second-consecutive year, Stephen Curry’s Warriors and LeBron James’ Cavs would meet in the NBA Finals. Golden State takes a 1-0 series lead with a Game 1 win.
June 19, 2016 — LeBron James leads the Cavs back from a 3-1 series deficit, making them the first team in NBA Finals history to do so. It is the first title in Cleveland’s franchise history.
For his efforts, James is named Finals MVP for the third time in his career.
July 4, 2016 — Kevin Durant signs with the Warriors, joining forces with Stephen Curry. With Durant (2014) and Curry (2015, 2016) the Warriors have the winners of the last three league MVPs.
The winner in the two years prior? LeBron James.
June 1, 2017 — Things look a little different this time around, but the Warriors and Cavaliers meet in the NBA Finals for the third straight year. A 22-point Game 1 win was a sign of things to come as Golden State would defeat Cleveland in five games.
Stephen Curry 2, LeBron James 1.
Feb. 18, 2018 — As All-Star captains, Team LeBron faces Team Stephen in the first NBA All-Star Game in which teams were selected by captains.
LeBron James earned All-Star MVP honors as Team LeBron earned the win.
May 31, 2018 — The fourth and final NBA Finals meeting between the Warriors and the Cavaliers looks much different than the first. With Kyrie Irving now in a Celtics uniform, Cleveland put forth an All-Star duo of LeBron James and Kevin Love against Golden State’s All-Star quartet.
In a 10-point overtime loss, James put forth one of the best performances of his career, finishing with 51 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Stephen Curry and the Warriors would ultimately earn a series sweep, giving him a 3-1 edge in postseason meetings.
May 19, 2021 — LeBron James and the 7-seed Lakers host Stephen Curry and the 8-seed Warriors in the NBA’s Play-In Tournament. It wasn’t quite the NBA Finals stage, but it marked the fifth year in which the two superstars would meet in the postseason.
James’ 22-point triple-double and late-game go-ahead 3-pointer prove to be the difference as LA would advance to the playoffs. Following a loss to Memphis two days later, Golden State failed to qualify.
Feb. 10, 2022 — LeBron James selects Stephen Curry third overall in the NBA All-Star draft. Prior to the All-Star Game, the two are honored as members of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
Curry was named MVP after draining an All-Star record 16 3-pointers en route to 50 points while James sank the game-winning bucket. The duo was as unfair in real life as it seems on paper.
April 8, 2022 — On Season 5, Episode 2 of “The Shop,” LeBron James says that Stephen Curry is the NBA player that he would most like to play with, citing their recent All-Star success as a reason.
Steph Curry’s the one that I wanna play with for sure, in today’s game. … I love everything about that guy. Lethal. When he get out his car, you better guard him right from the moment he pulls up to the arena. … You might wanna guard him when he get out of the bed.
May 2, 2023 — Two years after the Play-In Tournament, the 6-seed Warriors and 7-seed Lakers meet in the 2023 Western Conference Semifinals.
Many names around them have changed, but it’s the fifth postseason series between Stephen Curry and LeBron James.
James, 39, averages 24.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game to lead the Lakers to a six-game series win over the Warriors and 35-year-old Curry, who averages 26.7 points, 7.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds for the series.
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