LeBron James vs. Jeremy Sochan beef, explained: How trash talk, flop claim ignited Lakers-Spurs internet feud

Over the past 25 years, few NBA franchises have been as successful as the Lakers and Spurs. And while Los Angeles and San Antonio aren’t currently in the same Western Conference tier, an unlikely individual rivalry adds intrigue to each head-to-head matchup.

As LeBron James continues his incredible run as an All-NBA caliber player in his 21st season, many up-and-comers have thought to test the all-time great. Perhaps the most bold challenger has been second-year Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan.

This specific rivalry is especially intriguing as Sochan was born just one month before James was drafted first overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. Fast forward 20 years and the two are peers, and their age gap hasn’t gotten in the way of fiery competition that has spilled online.

What’s the deal between James and Sochan? Here’s how in-game trash talk has led to a beef that’s largely consisted of internet trolling between Sochan and fans of the Lakers star.

MORE: Does LeBron James get legacy boost from his In-Season Tournament MVP?

LeBron James vs. Jeremy Sochan beef, explained

As the Lakers faced the Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, Sochan sent shockwaves through NBA Twitter with one simple inquiry. 

“Why does ‘King’ James flop so much?” Sochan posted on May 18, a date that lines up with Game 2 of the series. The post stood out because of Sochan’s accusation and his decision to use quotes around the word king.

From that point forward, Sochan would become the archenemy of nearly all of James’ fan accounts on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. And while Sochan’s decision to call out James was initially viewed as random, internet sleuths traced back to a potential origin of the beef thanks to the storytelling of Lonnie Walker IV.

During a February 2023 appearance on Buckets’ “Outta Pocket” podcast, Walker, a member of the Lakers at the time, recalled an early-season story in which Sochan’s trash talk might have struck a nerve with James.

“When we played the Spurs, in San Antonio — Jeremy Sochan — I don’t know what he said to [LeBron] but, he just got subbed out. And [LeBron’s] got like eight points and it was like the second quarter. Jeremy says something and [LeBron’s] like, ‘Remember you said that.'”

WATCH: Follow LeBron James and the Lakers all season long on Sling TV

The game Walker is likely referring to was a meeting between the Lakers and Spurs on Nov. 26, 2022.

James had scored 11 points when he was subbed out with 5:39 remaining in the first half. If Walker, who was in the game at that time, is referring to that specific moment, James went on to score 28 points (on 8-of-13 shooting) to finish the game with 39 points and lead LA to a five-point win.

A look back at the game shows James speaking in Sochan’s direction when he was subbed out midway through the first quarter. If it were from that point forward, James scored 36 of his 39 points from the second quarter on.

Fast forward six months to the postseason when Sochan seemingly realized the power of trolling James’ fans on social media.

When the Lakers were swept in the Conference Finals, he posted, “Dun dun dunnnnnn” as the game reached its final moments before saying, “Goodnight, hope everyone sleeps well” with some sarcastic emojis once LA was officially eliminated.

After ESPN released an animated video detailing the Nuggets’ and Heat’s respective paths to the Finals, Sochan posted, “I know some of you are hot about this video,” with a crying emoji, adding, “Bare creative though,” with a gold and purple emoji to draw attention to the part where an animated Nikola Jokic sends James to the floor with a dunk.

With Sochan making a habit of riling up fans of James and the Lakers, some of his notable banter includes engagement with fan accounts titled @BronMuse and, more recently, @BronGotGame, who called Sochan out after he received a flopping technical foul.

Ultimately, Sochan is a bright up-and-comer with a bold personality and a penchant for good-natured trolling. Given how widespread fans of James and the Lakers are, Sochan’s arguably braver for taking things online than he is for trash-talking James in the heat of battle.

Source : ESPN.com

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