- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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“I don’t think he forgot,” Stevenson said. “It’s still there, but it was with my old team. I think it’s pretty much over. It’s a different team, different type of situation. But sometimes people don’t forget things.”
There are many other storylines that will get more attention when Stevenson’s Mavericks and James’ Heat meet in the NBA Finals. But the rap star-studded back and forth between them dominated the headlines during the Wizards-Cavaliers first-round series in 2008.
It started with Stevenson, whose Washington team was eliminated by King James’ Cavs the previous two postseasons, calling James “overrated.” LeBron answered by saying responding to Stevenson would be like rap icon Jay-Z getting into it with one-hit wonder Soulja Boy.
And then it was really on.
Stevenson reached out to Soulja Boy after the Cavs took a 2-0 lead. After the creator of “Crank Dat” got the Verizon Center crowd crunk by doing his famous dance as his song blared over the loudspeakers, Stevenson drilled five 3-pointers while harassing James into an off night during a lopsided Washington win.
King James rolled his eyes at postgame questions about a rivalry with Stevenson. However, the Washington Post reported that James had Jay-Z record a song with lyrics that ripped Stevenson, a track that was played at LeBron’s party the next night at D.C. hotspot Love.
Stevenson was pretty steamed at the time, but he’s not sweating it now.
“I’m not worried about it,” Stevenson said. “But at the same time, you know it’s there.
“I think he already is fired up any time we’re on the court together. I think he’s worried about winning a championship, and so are we. It’s not about me and him. It’s about going out there and playing and bringing home a ring.”
The trash talking didn’t exactly help Stevenson’s cause during that series. James averaged 29.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.7 assists while the Cavs won in six, closing out the series with a triple-double in D.C.
Of course, James put up pretty impressive numbers the previous two postseasons against Stevenson and the Wizards. James averaged 27.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in a 2007 sweep and 35.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists while the Cavs won in six games in 2006.
Pretty impressive numbers for an overrated player, huh?
Stevenson now acknowledges that his animosity toward LeBron stemmed from the Cavs repeatedly eliminating the Wizards. He refers to James as an “MVP-type of player” and says LeBron is either the best in the league or right behind Kobe Bryant.
Wait … what about Dirk Nowitzki? Doesn’t he deserve to be considered in that company?
“Oh, Dirk don’t worry about that,” Stevenson said, cracking another smile. “I’d rather have my teammate mad at me than somebody else.”
Especially LeBron, as Stevenson learned from playoff experience.
4dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
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