When it comes to individual NBA rivalries, Stephen A. Smith believes it gets no better than LeBron James and his former protege.
There are a handful of intriguing matchups across the league to choose from, including the emerging feud between Joel Embiid and MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo. But given the evolution of their relationship, the “First Take” co-host still would give to the nod to James and Kyrie Irving.
You can hear Smith’s reasoning in the video below (segment begins at the 5:30), as seen Friday on ESPN.
While there seemed to be quite a bit of tension between Irving and James in the past, it sure looks as though things have cooled off of late. After all, Irving reached out to his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate earlier in the season for leadership advice, and the phone call reportedly was received well by King James. Not to mention, some within the basketball world haven’t ruled out the possibility of Irving taking his talents to Los Angeles this summer and reuniting with James.
So while the two might always have a little extra juice when they go up against each other, it’s probably off-base to call Irving vs. James a rivalry at this point.