While he spent the first 15 years of his career in the Eastern Conference, LeBron James has become quite familiar with the juggernaut that is the Golden State Warriors.
He managed to slay the dragon with a stunning upset in the 2016 NBA Finals, but the Warriors returned with Kevin Durant and dispatched of James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for back-to-back championships.
Now with the Los Angeles Lakers, the 14-time All-Star will get an opportunity to face the Warriors double the amount of times during the regular season, and perhaps match wits in the Western Conference playoffs. The increase in regular-season meetings is something Stephen Curry is looking forward to.
As for James and the Lakers, prognosticators have ranged from the team still missing the playoffs to knocking off the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. While comparing the two teams became en vogue, James considers there to still be a significant gap.
“We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” he said at Lakers Media Day. “They can pick up right where they left off. We’re picking up from scratch, so we have a long way to go. We can’t worry about what Golden State is doing. Golden State is Golden State. They’re the champions, they’ve been together for a few years now, so we put that to the side.
“We can only focus on what we can do to get better every day as a Lakers franchise. Hopefully someday we can put ourselves in position where we can compete for a championship as Golden State has done for the last few years.”
Despite a streak of eight consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and track record of wanting to contend in the present at essentially any cost, James has admitted to needing more patience than year’s past.
“We’re a new ballclub coming together, obviously [Golden State Warriors] have some returning guys. We have to take our bumps and bruises, there’s going to be good times, there’s going to be bad times,” he said.
“That’s what happens with a team that’s new. But if we continue to work the process and continue to sacrifice for one another, put in the commitment and time to being great, everything else will fall into place.”