NBA analyst says LeBron James fears Stephen Curry

Brad Sullivan
4 Min Read

In the opinion of ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, LeBron James has a “healthy level of fear” about Stephen Curry, with the two superstars set to face each other in the playoffs once again.

On “First Take,” Smith offered comments to Marcus Spears and former NBA player J.J. Redick in response to James’ comments about Curry and the Warriors.

“I suspect there’s a healthy level of fear,” Smith said. “… Let me tell you something. It’s justified. It’s justified. I ain’t insulting him. Hell, if I wasn’t rooting for the Golden State Warriors, I’d be scared of Steph. Who ain’t scared of Steph?

“I mean, think about this Swagu (Spears). Think about this J.J. If it ain’t the Golden State Warriors and you’re literally rooting for anybody else, who ain’t scared to death of Steph Curry? I mean, he strikes fear in everybody.”

James’ comments toward Curry offered the basic respect toward another player who, like James, long ago established his basketball legacy and continues to build upon it.

How Smith came to the conclusion that James is somehow afraid of Curry is unknown. However, the past history between the two players potentially offers a window into Smith’s thinking.

In four consecutive Finals matchups from 2015 to 2018, James’ and Curry’s teams faced off against each other. At the time, James was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Curry was with the Warriors.

During those clashes, the Warriors emerged with an NBA title three times, while James led the Cavaliers to their only title in 2016. In that 2016 series, James made history by leading his team to a comeback from a 3-1 deficit and ended up winning the Finals MVP award.

Contrasting that accolade is the fact that in those three title runs by the Warriors, Curry failed to earn the same award. That changed last year, when Curry led the Warriors to the franchise’s fourth NBA championship in the past eight seasons.

Both players have been a part of four NBA title teams, with a key difference marking James’ accomplishment. The Lakers superstar is in the rare category of winning an NBA championship with three different franchises: the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013, Cavaliers in 2016 and Lakers in 2020.

In addition to that accomplishment, James became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer this year and already holds a number of other records.

That’s why Smith’s bombastic remarks fall flat, as James has no reason to fear Curry. Smith’s efforts to spark debates are nothing new, and his regularly loud presentation of such opinions may elicit controversy.

While Smith likely won’t shy away from such comments in the future, James and Curry are focusing on their upcoming series, with Game 1 set for Tuesday night.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.