The jersey swap has become a hallowed ritual in NBA circles in recent years, with players showing respect for opponents by taking the shirt off of their own back, signing it, and giving it to a player on the other team that earned or has their esteem.
But going into Lakers vs. Warriors in the second round of the NBA playoffs, few would have predicted that Stephen Curry would be giving his to Lonnie Walker IV after the series was over.
Walker, however, had other plans, and after going from DNPs to exploding for 15 points in the fourth quarter — mostly by relentlessly attacking Curry — it would appear he’s earned the two-time MVP’s respect.
Walker posted a slideshow of photos from the Western Conference Semifinals on his Instagram on Saturday, and in the final one was a signed jersey from Curry with a hilarious message written alongside the star’s signature: “To Lonnie, Keep Building! All Love. Will never forgive you for Game 4...!”
That is a huge sign of regard from Curry, and it’s hard to argue that Walker didn’t earn all of it and then some with his incredibly resilient performance in this series. To go from out of the rotation to game-deciding hero is something few players in NBA history have ever done, and Curry — whose team was searching for their own Lonnie Walker-level adjustment off the bench all series — surely knows that those kinds of scoring explosions to swing such a pivotal game in a series don’t just grow on trees.
The only real question left now, though, is a relatively simple one: Did Steph get Lonnie’s jersey from that Game 4? Because I have a feeling that when we look back historically at this series, I know which one is going to have a higher value.
Even if now he’ll always be able to tell his kids and grandkids that he outdueled Stephen Curry in a playoff game and earned his jersey in the process, Lonnie may have just lost that trade. The jersey from The Lonnie Walker Game™ should be in the Hall of Fame.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.