LeBron James and Stephen Curry will not have to wait long for their next showdown as their long rivalry continues in the 2021-22 season. After a memorable clash in the play-in game last season, the Lakers and Warriors will kick-off the new season on Opening Night this year in Los Angeles on Oct. 19.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the contest will be part of TNT’s double-header to start the new season, and will serve as the nightcap to the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets opening up the year with a rematch of their memorable playoff series.
Per league source, the 75th regular season will tip off on @NBAonTNT like this on Oct. 19...— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) August 17, 2021
* Brooklyn at Milwaukee
* Warriors at Lakers
Two of the league’s most popular superstars, James and Curry added another memorable chapter in their individual rivalry — albeit at far lower stakes than in the past — last year with the league’s inaugural play-in game. While Curry was brilliant all night long to the tune of 37 points, it was James who got the last laugh with a game-sealing long-range 3-pointer to seal the Lakers berth in the playoffs.
That contest was the latest James-Curry matchup to draw huge ratings numbers. The two superstars also are responsible for one of the most-watched NBA games of all-time in the 2016 NBA Finals Game 7, which drew 31 million viewers. The 5.6 million average viewers that tuned in for last year’s play-in game was, at the time, the most-watched NBA game since the 2019 Western Conference Finals.
Since that game, the two teams have made internal and external additions to their rosters. The Lakers notably brought in Russell Westbrook via trade, while Golden State will see Klay Thompson return to the lineup this season after over two years out due to injuries. Thompson is expected to be ready for training camp and the opening of the regular season.
In much smaller roster transaction news that adds some fuel to the fire as well, Kent Bazemore reportedly turned down more money from the Warriors in free agency to jump ship and join the Lakers for the veterans minimum this offseason.
Add it all up and it’s no surprise that the Lakers and Warriors were earmarked to open the new year. It’ll be an exciting way to kick off what should be a fascinating season for the purple and gold this year.