Who can forget LeBron James towering over Steph Curry in the 2016 finals Game 6? It’s a memory that lives rent-free in Cavs fans’ heads. Perhaps the most hated player in Cleveland history is getting swatted by the most beloved.
The subliminal message of the block and soon to be meme was inevitable. LeBron once again asserting his dominance as the best player in the NBA. But perhaps there is more to this game-changing moment that meets the eye.
It might come as a shock to some fans, LeBron has been labeled as a non-trash talker.
“I’ve always been the kind of guy that let his game do his talking.”James said, “For me, as long as it doesn’t get disrespectful, I’m fine with it. But I’ve never really started a trash-talking dialogue.”
While LeBron has had his share with confrontations, insert Enes Kanter, one can argue that it comes with the territory of being the best player in the league. That being said, LeBron has said that if things get personal, he will get involved.
Even renowned trash talker and NBA legend Kobe Bryant reiterated Lebron’s lack of trash talk.
“They don’t seem to want to talk any trash. I say everything to LeBron. He says nothing back. He just laughs.”Bryant said, “There’s no banter back and forth. I guess it’s a generational thing. When I first came into the league, the trash talk was downright cutthroat.”
Many former players associate trash talk with a player’s desire to win, which has brought into question LeBron’s ‘killer mentality.’ But, perhaps what sets LeBron apart from his counterparts is the timing of his trash talk. While many players can go on about stories of Kobe Bryant telling them they had a good game before it was over, or Michael Jordan ‘taking it personally,’
Lebron’s trash talk is right in front of fans. It even creates iconic momentum shifts in the NBA.
Thus, we forget LeBron Jumping over Jason Terry, his altercation with Draymond Green that got Green ejected from Game 5 and all of his Steph Curry run-ins.
While these may be seen as just ‘run-ins,’ they held weight in the form of series shifters. After Draymond’s ejection, Klay Thompson delivered a quote that Cavs fans will remember forever.
“I guess his feelings just got hurt.”
LeBron and Kyrie followed that quote by going for over 40 a piece in their Game 5 win in Golden State. Cavs fans were already heated because of the quote and the overall smugness of Golden State; Lebron felt this and pointed out his target…
No question, we can look to this moment as a pinpoint of exactly when the 2016 finals shifted. LeBron is methodical in handling his trash-talking. He saves it for the most crucial moments on the biggest stage and what stage is greater than the finals.
Momentum is everything in basketball. Perhaps we do not give LeBron enough credit for how he uses his ability to withstand trash talk.
Kobe and Michael used it as a tool to get better. To show their counterpart that they would never touch their surface of talent and to get in their head. LeBron uses it as a tool. His words and actions hold weight and he has proven to use that as a tactical advantage.