Lost in the hoopla over Stephen Curry's second straight Most Valuable Player Award, his status as the first player to have won that award unanimously and his record-setting performance in overtime after two weeks off with a sprained MCL is an equally striking accomplishment: What he's done to LeBron James.
Curry, in his unlikely rise from undersized, relatively unheralded draft pick to star player to MVP to most important player in the game, has quietly overshadowed the player who embraced the moniker the Chosen One and once held the game in his hands.
Which makes sense. We talk so often, amidst the flurry of record-breaking three pointers -- and the small-ball, ball-movement, defense-and-team-first mantra that powered the Warriors to an all-time best 73 regular-season wins -- about how Curry has revolutionized the game.
Go small. Pass the ball. Find a point guard. And above all else, shoot the three. LeBron & Co. have certainly embraced that last part of the game's evolution. They've made 134 of them in eight games so far this post-season, good for 16.8 a game. To put that in perspective, the Warriors averaged 13.3 made threes a game in the regular season.
But even that accomplishment by the Cavs undercuts LeBron's greatness, for he used to be the one teams and players imitated. Now he and his team are the ones doing the imitating. The flattering. The chasing.
Yes, beyond any doubt, Curry has revolutionized the game just when it was supposed to be LeBron's time to reign. And it's certainly worth noting that revolutions can't happen without first conquering the King.
Make no mistake: LeBron James -- as competitive an NBA player and historian of the game as we've ever seen, to say nothing of being one of its all-time leading lights -- is just as riveted by Curry as the rest of us. Only his fascination rests in the battle he now finds himself in against Curry for a hold over the league rather than the easy role the rest of us enjoy as spectators.
LeBron craves the limelight, like most who ascend to the rarefied air he has long inhabited. He cares about his place in the game, about where he ranks among his competitors, about the awards he receives, about these and all words said and written about him, and about the Q-rating and Hollywood roles that can further cement his place in the public imagination.
This is a man open, with me in the past and others since, about wanting to pass Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time. Which I respect. Let the great ones not pretend they want to be anything other than great -- particularly those with a very clear path toward it. But then Curry happened.
This slight-of-frame interloper flitted into the King's domain and did something as jaw-dropping as those records he's ripped from the game's history -- the 402 regular-season three-pointers, the 17 post-season overtime points, the unanimous MVP vote, the 73 wins.
He became a better basketball player than LeBron James.
With Kobe Bryant safely retired and Tim Duncan on his last legs, this was supposed to be the era of The King. A rise of greatness that, if not surpassing Jordan, would at least have reached similar heights.
Don't misunderstand. Nothing is settled. Not yet. Revolutions happen and then die out. Heroes fall and rise. The greats mask themselves in mediocrity and even failure before the great victory, and the mediocre often reign victorious and celebrated until time tells the ultimate tale. All of us, even those competing for its verdict, wait on history.
So the newest battle -- the one just beneath the surface of everything else that happens in this league -- goes on: LeBron vs Curry. Curry vs LeBron. The Chosen One versus the one nobody chose. The King vs the would-be revolutionary. Goliath vs David.
How did "The Wire" put it? You come at the King, you best not miss.
Curry, we've come to find, rarely misses.
But the fight isn't over.
Curry and his teammates took LeBron down last year in the Finals, despite a Herculean effort from Cleveland's star. Minus Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, LeBron ripped off a stunning Finals line: 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. It was a wondrous thing to see. He didn't win the Finals MVP because his team lost, but he'd have had my vote. As it happened, he received four of the 11 votes.
And yet Curry prevailed. You can't dock LeBron's two titles because he went to Miami. Rings are rings. And you can't dock Curry because of injuries to another team. Rings are rings.
Plus, Curry followed up that championship with this season's 73 wins. And dropped those record-breaking threes while becoming the first player in NBA history to join the esteemed 50-40-90 club -- 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the three-point line and 90 percent from the free-throw line -- and win a scoring title in the same season.
He came at The King. He didn't miss. And now he's coming back again, with a Game 5 victory over Portland under his belt and time to rest before the conference finals. This time, perhaps, it'll be The King who gets to take a shot at the guy now on the throne.
Curry and his teammates must still earn a ticket to the NBA Finals. And LeBron and his guys still have to do the same. But if they do, Curry vs. LeBron will be about more than a championship.
It'll be a war for LeBron's legacy, a litmus test for the only two guys truly capable of testing each other, and a best-of-seven-games referendum on who truly holds sway over the NBA.