LeBron James should play with Stephen Curry before retiring

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James embrace after a game. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James embrace after a game. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) /

At the Los Angeles Lakers’ postgame presser following Game 4’s loss to the Denver Nuggets that also ended its season, LeBron James hinted at his basketball mortality.

"“I don’t play for anything besides winning championships at this point in my career. I don’t get a kick out of making a Conference [Finals] appearance. I’ve done it, a lot. It’s not fun for me to not be a part of getting to the Finals. We’ll see what happens going forward,” James said. “I’ve got a lot to think about, to be honest…”"

Many have dismissed it as a smokescreen to distract from criticizing his swept team. Others have said it’s a tactic to pressure the organization for immediate improvement. Who knows for sure? But the end is undoubtedly near.

James has totaled 65,747 minutes in the regular season and playoffs after 20 years in the NBA. It’s a marvel that he is still effective at his advanced age, evident by his career-high in playoff points for a half in Game 4.

In two decades of serving three organizations, James delivered championships for each. He doesn’t owe any city anything anymore. But, aside from running the floor with Junior (Bronny), by James’ admission, there is one task left to complete on his basketball agenda: playing with Stephen Curry.

That might be easiest in Golden State.  The Warriors have assets in Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole to almost match the salaries. The Dubs would need a another player in the deal, but it would be an upgrade over the current build because Wiggins and Poole are not the scorers James is, even now. Yet, Wiggins is much sharper defensively at this stage. Losing him would negatively affect point-of-attack defense.

Let’s not forget how much James’ unofficial public relations specialist Draymond Green has sung his praises. Or, how Green assaulted Poole in a practice before the season and knocked him out in a TMZ obtained video.

Getting rid of Poole, who did nothing wrong by the way, would improve the vibes in Golden State.  It’s not possible for Green to be the locker room leader he used to be if guys are potentially afraid of him. Replacing Poole with James could rejuvenate Green’s morale and play. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor is also confident the Dancing Bear (Green) is on the hunt to lure James to town. Seven years ago, his efforts to convince Kevin Durant to come aboard were successful. Golden State won back-to-back championships as a result.

The Warriors have been one of the top passing teams since Kerr took over in 2014. Assuredly, each scenario would be an experience James would cherish forever. Suiting up with the Warriors, although, might seem distasteful to the Cleveland Cavaliers faithful. But a true fan of hoops would drool over the potential pairing of two of the best ever.

But what about legacy? James and Curry have eight championships combined and have squared off in four title rounds, plus a Conference Semifinal. If they want to ring chase together, people should accept it and not try to diminish the achievements they earn together, as many fans and media tried with Durant when he was a Warrior. It shouldn’t affect either’s legacy because they should be judged on the memories left behind for the fans, not just the jewels.

Some might say, Magic Johnson didn’t join Larry Bird. Or Isiah Thomas would never have teamed up with Michael Jordan. Who cares? After all, isn’t all of this about having fun?

Near the end of the 2021-22 season, James said on Uninterrupted’s “The Shop” that Curry is someone he wants to play with before he hangs up his jersey for good.

“I love everything about that guy,” James said. “When he gets out of his car, you better guard him the moment he pulls up to the arena.”

Will a reporter please step forward and ask James who he wants to play with more, Curry or his son?

LeBron James should play with Stephen Curry before he retires.

Even at their ages, a duo of the Akron Hammer and the Human Torch could rival the best in the NBA. James is a high-usage orchestrator that slices up coverages off the dribble or with the pass. Curry, the most harmful sniper basketball has seen, works best at playing off the ball.

When the ball is in another playmaker’s hands, Curry cannot get doubled as he runs curls on the perimeter or through the lane. Defenders are supposed to keep an eye on the ball as well as their man. With Curry’s constant relocation and moving around screens, his matchups are constantly a step behind and/or late to contest his jumper.

If the Baby-Faced Assassin (Curry) wants to run pick-and-roll, James could work off-ball and, with his size, could be used as a 6-foot-9 receiver. With Curry handling, an intelligent opponent would blitz the play with two up front, yet this would leave James unattended, either rolling to the basket or on the side for a pop shot.

These two would also be as dangerous running split action and read and react. Hitting James with a post pass might require a double team by the opponent. Regardless, I daydream of the passer immediately screening for an incoming Curry on the wing for a quick fire or dive at the rim. They’d fit perfectly, too, when the player at the top of the key passes and instantly cuts to the basket while the perimeter players reposition.

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It’s just a fantasy, but we should all be so lucky to witness a match like this one. Maybe, the King’s master plan is getting Curry and Bronny on the team together. It has my support starting now, even if James has to force a trade to Golden State.