Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 at 3:45 pm  |  22 responses

LeBron James Sees Nothing Wrong With Friendships Among NBA Rivals

So-called old school fans and media often bellyache about the buddy-buddy relationships between this generation of NBA players. This lack of animosity among rivals is associated with a low competitive drive compared to the days of yore. LeBron James completely disagrees with this narrow view. Per Bleacher Report:

“Pat Riley, who plucked James out of Ohio in 2010, was long inflexible on this topic, chiding the likes of Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing—two former Georgetown teammates and two of his favorite players—for socializing while their teams faced off in the NBA playoffs. Riley, however, has never publicly said anything negative about the way that James interacts with (Kevin) Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony or others. ‘It’s a different time,’ James said. ‘I mean, we don’t…there’s not too much going to dinner with guys on other teams during the season. There is communication. But it’s a different time. I’ve been knowing guys on different teams way before this NBA thing. There wasn’t no AAU back in the days, when those guys were playing.’

When asked about shows like NBA TV’s Open Court, in which former players trade colorful anecdotes, James surprisingly scoffs: ‘A lot of those guys get on those shows, and they start fraternizing, they start telling tales. To be honest, I ain’t gonna throw no names out there, because that’s not what I do, but a lot of those guys get on those shows and they start lying. They do. Just to make it feel good for the show. Like they weren’t friends with nobody. Like, seriously. Get out of here.’ Shane Battier, his elder teammate, has seen more fraternizing over the course of his career. But he too takes issue with any assumption that, in a previous age, NBA players were all off on their own, and thus significantly more serious. ‘The narrative that the NBA has sold for the past 20 years is (Michael) Jordan,’ Battier said. ‘That Jordan was a solitary soldier. No friends. And even the friends he had, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley, he tried to rip their hearts out every game. And (Larry) Bird and Magic (Johnson) and Isiah (Thomas), the stories about those guys being so cutthroat are legendary. So that’s sort of the narrative that fans want to believe. That’s not necessarily fair. There are a lot of guys on our team and in our league that still have that demeanor; it’s just not publicized.’

Even so, James does acknowledge some differences in the times. ‘A lot of those guys didn’t know each other until college. And not even college—until they got to the NBA,’ James said. ‘So they were just meeting each other, and they were getting right into the fire. I’ve been friends with Chris Paul since I was, what, eight years old? And with Carmelo (Anthony) since I was a sophomore in high school. And me and (Dwyane) Wade came in as rookies same time, we started a friendship, and the list goes on and on.’ … ‘It’s a new era, man,’ James said. ‘And there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t take the competitive spirit out of (anything), man. And I think people need to realize that. You don’t have to hate somebody to compete against somebody. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if my mom is on the floor—I don’t want her to win, I don’t want her to score. When I step out on that floor, people know. People know that (when) I go out and I play, the minutes I’m out on the floor, if they’re not ready, I’m going to dominate them. And even if most of the time when they are ready, I’m still going to dominate them.’”

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  • cbranson05

    i don’t wanna be my rivals friends. thats just me. we can have a mutual respect because you have to respect the game and your opponent but aside from that, we ain’t no friends.

  • CommsFC

    So you and a buddy you’ve known since you were 8 years old get drafted into the NBA on different teams, so now you completely HATE the guy, and the 10+ years you’ve been friends carry absolutely no meaning?

  • Cortez Mack

    “Riley, however, has never publicly said anything negative about the way that James interacts with Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony or others.”

    The reason for this is simple…

    Riley is not stupid. The big time players nowadays make so much money that his overbearing commands on what a real competitor should act like would likely get him stuck in last place.

    James is winning playing just how he is.

  • cbranson05

    did i say “completely hate”? don’t put words in my post. i said we ain’t no friends outside of mutual respect

  • Cortez Mack

    His question is still valid.

    You are suggesting that your lifelong friend instantly becomes someone you have no friendship with that goes beyond “mutual respect”.

  • cbranson05

    it’s not valid because its not what i said. its his own created scenario leaning toward his own viewpoint. out the frame of my confined and direct statement

  • Dagger

    This is what I never understood:

    When I play a game, I go particularly hard at my friends. I want to crush my friends. Honestly, who doesn’t? That’s part of the fun of the game. The closer I am to you, the more I want to beat you. Not because I hate you, but because competition means more when you really know the other person.

    So to me, this dichotomy between friendship and competition is completely misplaced. I’m sure that Lebron and Durant want to crush each other when they play against one another. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want to work out together during the summer.

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    People forget that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson didn’t hate each other. In fact, they had each other’s games circled on their calenders. They respected each other and still went all out in games.

  • youngmuggsy

    Okay, you never said completely hate, but don’t dodge the question. Would you stop being friends with old friend, if said friend got drafted to a different team?

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    EXACTLY! If they were somehow underperforming in must-win games against each other, or laughing and high-fiving while getting blown out by 20 points, then yes, I’d have a problem with that.

    But Lebron, KD, and CP3 are 3 of the most competitive/cold-blooded guys in the entire league. I honestly can’t imagine their games being anymore competitive if they hated each other.

  • The Seed

    This is one of the many reasons I do not like L. James.

  • Cortez Mack

    I am sorry. Let me edit for you…

    (The easily understandable and surmisable premise of his) question is still valid.

    The word ‘hate’ was added as hyperbole. Reasonably too, based on your “we ain’t no friends” exclamation.

  • Cortez Mack


    These people have some unresolved personal issues or are in a state of arrested development.

  • bike

    LeBron is right. It’s all for show, always has been. Fans crave this stuff and if anyone truly exudes hate, it’s the fans–not the players.

  • VictorDeLaWood

    I may be wrong but I think they started out hating each other. They did admire and respect each other though. Later on in their carreers, after many games and many battles, they developed a friendship.

  • shockexchange

    Not for nothing but, it did seem kinda odd when Danny Green showed up at the club to help The Kang and ‘em celebrate their Finals victory. SE is just saying …

  • Melvin flynt

    Bill russell would go to wilt chamberlains house all the time after games an hang out, they were close friends and respected each others game! When they touched the court it was a straight up war battle !, I don’t see the big deal

  • Saleem Rainman

    exactly. they HATED eachother coming out of college and especially early on. lets not get it twisted.

  • RunMoreThanYourMouth

    Most of this basically comes from those who enjoy talking about how James isn’t Michael Jordan…as if he has to be. Or anyone else has to be. I like both LeBron and Shane Battier’s comments. Both are spot on. Isiah and Magic Johnson kissed each other on the cheek before games multiple times…didn’t they? And people are complaining and criticizing guys for shaking hands and smiling before regular season games? Comical.

  • Anthony

    I’d dare say all of y’all are under 35 years old. Things (society) are/is just different now. Networking and friendly competitive rivalry has replaced the KILL or BE KILLED/them or me/ dog eat dog obessive spirit of competition that was alive and taught to those of previous generations. Remember, the NBA back in the late 70s early 80s was riddled actual fist fights/brawls between players. You won’t see a player of today taking a punch to the face like Rudy T did or getting their finger bit to the bone like Danny Ainge. This change is something that is new (not right or wrong), just new and takes some getting used to.

  • Wings23

    As a fan the heated rivalries made the games and the NBA as a whole more entertaining.

  • young lebron james

    lebronn sould have a best friend so he can make a star just like him