The two best players in the NBA are at each other’s throats again, and it is VICIOUS. Steph Curry has bested LeBron James for the league’s Most Valuable Player award for the second straight year, in between which Curry’s Warriors defeated James’s Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for the league title. So it’s understandable that James would be a little pissed after repeatedly ending up on the losing side of these battles.

He blatantly showed it last week when asked about Curry’s most recent MVP coronation.

“I think he definitely deserved it. You look at Steph’s numbers, he averaged 30, he led the league in steals, he was 90-50-40, and they won 73. So, I don’t, do you have any debate over that, really, when it comes to that award?”

This was his first quote when, ever the statesman, James took the diplomatic approach and said the right things to appease the media. But when probed a bit further, the more insidious side of James came through:

“I think sometimes the word ‘valuable’ or best player of the year, you can have different results. When you talk about most ‘valuable’ then you can have a different conversation.”

Hoo boy. Is LeBron looking to become a spokesman for Lowry’s? Because he’s getting real salty. By bringing up the eternal debate on what “Most Valuable” actually means, he’s making it clear he couldn’t disagree more with every single one of the voters who made Curry the first unanimous MVP in league history. A sports star having a high opinion of himself? This is unheard of in the annals of sports history.

Despite what any other player is capable of or achievements they rack up, James is going to believe he is the best/most valuable/king-like player. And that’s fine, though a touch of humility couldn’t hurt. Though it’s nice to see LeBron move from subtweeting his teammates and moving that subtle negative energy elsewhere.

So how did the newly-crowned Curry take LeBron’s comments?

“I’ve gotten really good at ignoring people. So that is the theme of the last two years.”

The last two years, huh? Those same two years where he and Golden State have beaten James’s Cleveland teams? No so subtle yourself, Mr. Curry. An athlete at the top of his game choosing not to listen to or acknowledge any attacks on the achievements he’s made? Curry must have a pretty nice view from up there on his ivory tower. He clearly has had enough of other players dismissing his game. Lucky for him, he has a shiny new trophy to point to whenever a hater steps to him.

The tension is palpable. By being asked a question about something that doesn’t concern him by the media and answering truthfully, LeBron made it clear that he’s coming after Curry. And when being relayed vaguely negative comments clumsily dragged out of another player by reporters, from an entirely different set of reporters, and responding dismissively, Curry showed that he’s unafraid and ready for an all-out assault from this latest challenger.

This feud between NBA superstars is back, and it’s real. Hopefully both will advance to the NBA Finals so this conflict can culminate in a final battle on the actual court, instead of indirect press conference quotes that, damning and forceful as they may be, don’t hold the same weight as an actual game of basketball.

Imagine what reporters will be able to ask Curry and James then.

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