Long before meeting in this year’s NBA Finals, Steph Curry and LeBron James became friends during the time that Curry was still a guard playing for Davidson College. The young kid quickly made a name for himself with his quick and electric shooting, and long behold, one of the biggest names in the NBA was court-side, cheering him on.
James and Curry first became friends when Davidson made their NCAA tourney run in 2007. LeBron watched as Steph lit up the Wisconsin Badgers with a 33-point game and then the two met up again, when the Cleveland Cavaliers were in town to play the Charlotte Bobcats. They soon began to exchange text messages and also hung out whenever they got the chance to. As LeBron dominated the NBA and Steph quickly climbed the draft boards, James saw the potential and knew he had talent.
“He’s one of those players in basketball right now, period, that you get somebody out to go watch,” James said. “He’s a really good talent.
On the night of December 7, 2008, as Davidson was battling N.C. State, Steph Curry had his hands all over the game. He took over for his team and it simply seemed like he couldn’t miss. Knocking down shot after shot after shot, Steph kept his team in the game but the score was mildly close. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter, with 1:21 left on the clock when Davidson was battling to beat the shot clock until #30 got the ball in his hands. He knocked down a deep three with a hand in his face, which seemed to be the turning point in the game. LeBron noticed how big the shot was as well, watching from the sideline.
“He had just a little bit of room and you can’t give him too much room,” James said of Curry’s decisive 3 as the shot clock wound down. “It was a huge shot.”
What Curry did afterwards is what made the moment even more remarkable. Giving LeBron a “point” as to acknowledge his presence and let him know, “did you see what I just did!” Curry described the moment:
“I stared at him after and then I pointed at him,” said Curry, who matched a career high set last month in a loss to No. 6 Oklahoma. “Then my teammates came and we all went back to the bench. There was a little excitement.”
“His reactions to us on the floor are pretty cool to watch,” Curry said of James. “It’s all entertainment. We’re out there having fun and people appreciate it. That’s pretty cool, especially from him.”
Fast forward seven years later, and now they’re battling in the NBA Finals. It’s crazy to look and see how much can occur in just a few years. That same college kid that was inspired and motivated by one of the NBA’s best was just playing against him at the highest level. It’s no question that LeBron’s presence at those games and off the court meant a lot to Steph and in return, James was motivated by Curry’s courageous play as well.
“I saw a kid who didn’t care how big someone was, how fast someone else was, how strong someone else was,” James told reporters in Cleveland this week.
“He just went out and played. He wasn’t going to let anything, as far as the analytics when it comes to size, power, strength, speed, stop him from what he was able to do.
“It was great to see someone like that who doesn’t get caught up in people going after guys who can jump higher and run faster and run through a wall harder and things like that.”
As a fan, it’s amazing to see greatness appreciate greatness. Sometimes the encouragement of others gets overlooked, but something as simple as going to someone’s basketball game can do a lot for a player. They started out as friends and ended as opponents, but that friendship still remained. They battled each other and gave it all they had, and even in the end, that mutual respect was still there.