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Stevenson. James. Now Jay-Z? This Spat Is Getting Serious.

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Stevenson said yesterday he was actually flattered to be disrespected by Jay-Z, because, like Gil said, it's Hova.

But Damon Jones? That's like Bono responding to John Mayer. "I heard he was saying foul stuff about me . . . they're taking it beyond basketball to me," Stevenson said.

Now that you have created a Tupac-Biggie war in the NBA playoffs, fusing pro basketball and the hip-hop entertainment world like only Bob Johnson wishes he could have done, do you regret what you said about LeBron?

"I still feel that way," Stevenson said. "I think he's a good player, but I just don't think he's Kobe Bryant, a guy who you try to get your sleep on, you worry about, you can't stop no matter what you do. [LeBron] is a good player. But compared to the people I think who are true MVP all-stars.

"The whole thing is a little overblown," he added. "I said he's overrated, I didn't say he sucks. If you look at the games and what's going on, I know when I go to sleep I know we have to play LeBron James. When I go to sleep and know we have to play the Lakers, I know it's going to be a long night. It's the difference between the Kobes and LeBrons. Not saying he will never get there, but that's what I'm saying."

The genesis of this beef, according to DeShawn, is all on LeBron. He's the one, DeShawn said, who trashed Stevenson and the Wizards within earshot of Drew Gooden, a former Cavaliers player who happens to Stevenson's best friend in the league from their days together in Orlando.

"He thought it wasn't going to get back to me," Stevenson said. "He said something about my game. He said I'm getting a lot of hype this year, that he doesn't think I'm the good player I am and basically that I suck, our team sucks and we're not going anywhere. I took offense to that. If LeBron James never said that comment, we wouldn't have the rivalry we have right now."

For his part, LeBron admits he's called Stevenson's game into question but said he's never gotten personal, adding, "I don't know DeShawn.

"Look, I didn't say what I said for fame," Stevenson said. "I've been in this league eight years. I said what I said because I have a sense of pride and I don't think anyone should be bashing me and my team like that."

"When I had Soulja Boy here, it was on the court. It was nothing disrespecting him or his family or even foul language. So I'm boycotting Love. Everybody on our team, we're boycotting Love and Park. We're not going no more. But I appreciate Jay-Z for giving me the shout out."

Player insults. Economic sanctions. More gum-flapping. And Soulja Boy, oh!

What plotlines. What a series.

It's not often you get to type the words "hip-hop impresario" and phone a hip place like Love, asking for the owner, pretending to be down with the fellas. It's enough to make someone completely unqualified want to bust a rhyme:

DeShawn's Got Soulja

LeBron's Got Hova

Game 4 is off da hook

Now this column is ova

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