NEW ORLEANS • Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James has laughed off suggestions that he and Stephen Curry are rivals to match Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
James and Curry have met in the NBA Finals the past two seasons, and the tussles between Cleveland and Golden State have stirred memories of classic Lakers-Celtics duels of the 1980s.
But James, speaking after Saturday's All-Star practice session, said he simply does not view Curry as a rival.
James, in his 14th season in the NBA, said: "I don't have a rivalry with Steph Curry. There's no way you can say 'let's talk about rivalries' and you say Bird and Magic; Carolina, Duke; Ohio State, Michigan; and then say LeBron and Steph.
"It's disrespectful to those other three that I just named that you would even try to put us in the class with that. We haven't had enough battles, and who's to say we'll have future battles?
NBA championships head-to-head between LeBron James and Stephen Curry in the past two seasons. James' Cavaliers completed a memorable comeback from a 1-3 series deficit last season, while the Curry-led Warriors won 4-2 two years ago.
James is a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, though sharpshooter Curry is the twice-defending MVP.
"We'll see, but to put us in a category with (them), it's impossible. You can't do it."
The 32-year-old James is a four-time NBA MVP, but Curry has won the past two MVP awards, and last year he was the unanimous choice - the first time in league history.
The Cavaliers and Warriors are top of their respective conferences at the halfway stage, and are strong favourites to set up a third straight finals match-up.
Another Golden State-Cleveland series would be an NBA first: No two teams have played three straight finals against each other.
James said he was not fazed by the prospect of a gruelling second half of the season, and insisted he had plenty of energy left for a deep play-off run.
"I have enough left for whatever," James said. "I was ready to play another finals after Game 7 of last year. Just give me one or two days' rest and I'll be ready to go again."
This morning's (Singapore time) will be the first All-Star game since 2005 - James' first All-Star - where no player in the game will be older than 32.
Carmelo Anthony is the oldest All-Star, seven months older than James and eight months older than Marc Gasol. They are all 32.
Anthony, however, is the league's saddest All-Star, after becoming a late replacement for the injured Kevin Love.
He had planned to vacation with his family in Cuba and Puerto Rico and on Saturday expressed disappointment that he had to be in New Orleans for the game.
He called his invitation a "downer." But he also wanted to make the best of it, he said, if only because the event offered him a chance to play professional basketball without the melodrama of his day job.
"This is definitely therapy for me," said the player, who remains the face of the New York Knicks, for now if not forever. "This is a break for me to come here and not have to deal with my situation or our organisation."
That situation, as he called it, involves Thursday's trade deadline and the apparent desire by the team president, Phil Jackson, to send Anthony elsewhere.
At the same time, the Knicks (23-34) have continued to deal with fallout from former player Charles Oakley's forcible removal from a recent game at Madison Square Garden at the behest of the owner, James L. Dolan.
The Knicks' dysfunction has been a topic of some conversation amid the fanfare of All-Star weekend, with several current and former players criticising the organisation for its treatment of both Anthony and Oakley.
THE GUARDIAN, NYTIMES
NBA ALL-STAR GAME
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