While LeBron James disagrees with the assertion that he started the so-called superteam era in the NBA, he took satisfaction from Draymond Green taking time out of the Golden State Warriors‘ championship parade Thursday to mention his name.
James appeared as a guest on the Road Trippin’ podcast hosted by Cavs players Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye and sideline reporter Allie Clifton and addressed the latest round of trash talk between the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, which spilled onto social media Thursday with Green and James taking swipes at each other on Instagram. Aside from wearing a T-shirt mocking the Cavs’ early exit from the Finals and making fun of James’ new haircut that makes the 32-year-old look bald, Green also declared, “You started the superteam, bro!” while quoting James’ statement that he never played on a superteam.
“No,” James said when Green’s superteam comments were brought up in the episode released Friday. “No. I mean in 2003, the Lakers combined Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Shaq and Kobe. And in ’96, when Jordan was retired, the Rockets joined Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler all on the same team.
“But I don’t look at it as … I definitely didn’t start the superteam, if that’s what he’s trying to say. But I just feel like that it’s great that on the day you’re celebrating your championship, my likeness and my name is in your head. I love that.”
The common denominator between those Lakers and Rockets teams and the modern-day Warriors is that all three franchises had a championship core in place when they added their heralded piece or pieces to try to earn another ring.
Both superteams that James is credited for creating in Miami in 2010 and in Cleveland in 2014 involved major talent coming together on a team that hadn’t achieved success before their arrival.
“People forget, when you went to Miami, they had just lost in the first round. And you added Chris Bosh,” Jefferson said. “I just remember when people talk about superteams and this and that and putting people together, it would have been like if you had joined the Boston Celtics after you had lost to them. To put it in comparison, the Golden State Warriors have been the best team the last three years. They broke NBA records for the last three years, and they added probably the second-best talent in the NBA.”
James spoke glowingly of the Warriors’ acquisition, Kevin Durant, who ended up being the MVP of Golden State’s 4-1 dismissal of Cleveland in the NBA Finals.
“He’s a talent of his own,” James said of Durant. “A guy that’s damn-near 7-foot that handles the ball the way he does, the athletic ability that he has and the shooting, the ability to shoot the ball from anywhere, he’s just a rare talent that our league hasn’t seen.”
The co-hosts, who produce their podcast on James’ Uninterrupted multimedia platform — which also produces Green’s Dray Day podcast — had some fun with the public spat between James and Green.
“The other guy is such a great guy, and it’s like gentlemen banter back and forth,” said Frye, purposely not calling Green by name.
“Oh, yeah,” James replied. “For sure.”
“It’s like, this is the greatest day you could have arguably in your life and you’re talking to us,” Frye later said. “That’s cool, though.”
“Absolutely,” James concurred. “Absolutely.”
“The one thing I will say …” Jefferson began to say.
“Is that he’s ugly?” Frye interjected. “Edit that, please.”
Frye said he would have been able to trash-talk more had he played more in the Finals. He appeared in one of the five games, scoring two points on 1-for-5 shooting with three rebounds. Green averaged 11 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in the Finals.
“If I would have scored 8-12 points total, I’d be talking the most s—,” Frye said. “Dude, let me. I would have Wikipedia’d this life, dawg. I would have had the internet killing him all over the place. I was like, I wish he would have put me in. Oh, [Tyronn Lue], put me in for this reason alone. I’m ready, dawg. Listen. But I can’t say s—. I can’t say nothing. This f—ing sucks.”
Jefferson, Frye and Clifton also brought up James’ new hairdo. James said he had talked to his teammates about cutting his hair for months.
“I’ve been telling you guys,” James said. “So it wasn’t like I just woke up and was like, ‘[Gasp], it’s time.’ No.”
“You mean the Dubs didn’t make you do it, is what you’re saying,” Clifton replied, referring to Green’s Instagram post.
“No,” James said. “Of course not. If that was the case, I would have grown an afro.”
Jefferson, who will turn 37 next week, said on the podcast that he is considering retirement once again. Shortly after the Cavs’ Game 7 win over the Warriors in the 2016 Finals, Jefferson called it a career before changing his mind and signing a two-year, $5.1 million contract to return.
“I don’t know what I’m about to do next season,” Jefferson said. “The only way I would come back would be if these m—–f—–s figure this s— out. Honestly, at the end of the day, coming back alone was not only worth the experience but also worth Road Trippin’, man. This s— was cool, man, because we gave fans something that they had never f—ing seen.”
James did not try to sway Jefferson either way.
“Whatever you do, RJ, you know you got a home here,” James said. “You got a home here in Cleveland.”
The podcast was recorded Thursday night before the Cavs met for their final team dinner of the season. James said he planned to be back in the gym Friday to stay ready for next season.
“My motivation? It hasn’t changed,” James said. “My motivation hasn’t stopped. It’s just ‘Strive for greatness.’ My motivation don’t change. I can’t stop. I refuse to stop.”