At one point during the Cavaliers' 120–90 thrashing of the Warriors Wednesday night, the two biggest stars in basketball had an unusual encounter. It happened between the action, after a whistle had blown the previous play dead. As players sometimes do, Steph Curry grabbed the loose ball and leaped toward the basket for a practice layup while the officials sorted things out.

LeBron James, however, did not permit the layup, meaningless or no. He jumped up and rejected Curry, who clearly hadn't expected any resistance.

The attempted layup and block will never count on the scoresheet, but they spoke volumes about the extraordinarily intense competitiveness between these two teams and, in particular, these two players. Between them, LeBron and Steph have won six of the last eight MVP awards, with Curry earning the last two. No doubt LeBron has gotten a little tired of hearing about how he's no longer the undisputed best player in the world. This dead-ball rejection was as clear a message as he could send.

Game 4 is Friday night at 9, with the Warriors owning a 2–1 lead in the series.


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