LeBron vs. Zion is turning into a rivalry we didn’t expect – but we absolutely need

The respect…

…preceded by the disrespect.

Don’t be fooled. It’s happening right in front of our eyes.

LeBron James and Zion Williamson have a thing going on…and it’s not really that cordial.

On Sunday evening, the Lakers and Pelicans faced off for the second time in a week, meaning LeBron and Zion had a chance to go at it again.

And with that, the NBA has its newest rivalry.

It’s old vs. young. Former phenom vs. future phenom. Today vs. tomorrow.

It’s the NBA’s newest and greatest feud, but unlike the pettiness that’s occurring between James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo, we’re getting to see this one happen on the court.

Of course, LeBron and the Lakers won. Even without Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are not ready to defeat the veteran-laden Lakers, led by the King.

But wait…Zion doesn’t feel that way?!

Does that look like a kid who is okay with losing, even if it is against LeBron?

Were his comments about LeBron – although complimentary – really that warm and fuzzy?

Zion might be built like a big teddy bear, but he doesn’t play like one.

He actually plays like a shorter version of another big teddy bear.

Zion came to dominate LeBron James and the Lakers.

He came to remind us of what we already knew: he’s arrived and he can play with the best.

A triple-double and a win will always overshadow a big scoring night.

And moves like this help:

But Zion made a statement of his own.

We might not think he’s ready to beat LeBron, but all that matters is that he thinks it. And the best rivalries are created out of the young man chasing the old man.

Remember when Michael Jordan chased Magic Johnson and Larry Bird?

Remember when Kobe Bryant chased Michael Jordan?

Realize when Zion is chasing LeBron.

LeBron seems to be a little nicer than his predecessors. He seems to be willing to hand the game to Zion and others when it’s time.

It is a fine line. And LeBron is the face of a different generation of players.

But, we still haven’t seen how LeBron will respond when Zion and that next generation actually takes over.

Will he still exude the same kindness and support?

That’s a bit aggressive, even though we love it.

That’s a nice thing to say, but why such high numbers against the young guys?

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We see your game, Bron.

James is not going softly into the night.

The Lakers and Pelicans won’t face off again this regular season, but those pesky Pels are only three games out of the eight-seed in the West.

Fingers, toes and legs crossed that this rivalry can spill over into the first round of the playoffs.