Sportress of Blogitude

Kawhi Leonard said LeBron James was ‘scared’ to guard him?

There is at long last a legitimate, bitter rivalry between the Clippers and Lakers in the battle for Los Angeles’ basketball soul, and Kawhi Leonard is said to have recently upped the ante by calling out none other than “The King,” LeBron James.

On Wednesday’s edition of “First Take” on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith relayed a story about how Leonard allegedly dropped some smack talk during a Clippers-Lakers matchup this season.

“I was told by a very reliable source that Kawhi Leonard sat up there and said, ‘Somebody tell LeBron to stop being scared to guard me,” Smith said. “That’s what they said — that Kawhi is walking around feeling (that way).”

Smith is among the more plugged-in talking heads when it comes to the NBA, so there’s a decent chance his reporting is based on some semblance of fact, although it’s surprising to hear someone as notoriously soft-spoken as Leonard would ever engage in such antics.

That said, trash talk is indeed an integral component of the NBA game, and players routinely challenge opponents with their words in addition to their play.

All that said, what ultimately matters is the outcome on the court. The Lakers (30-7) boast a 4.5-game lead atop the Western Conference, with the Clippers (26-12) currently slotted fourth.

In head-to-head matchups, however, the Clippers so far have the upper hand, going 2-0 on the teams’ shared court at Staples Center, including a thrilling showdown on Christmas Day.

In those games, James has averaged 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 1.5 steals and a block. Leonard, meanwhile, is averaging  32.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks. While James obviously was not guarding Leonard constantly in the two losses, Leonard so far has the edge in the Clippers-Lakers rivalry.

Whether James is truly afraid to Leonard, though? Well, that’s another story altogether.