There’s absolutely no doubt that LeBron James is one of the greatest players of all time. Hell, he’s one of the best athletes across all sports, period, as he’s proven by dominating the NBA since entering the league 17 years ago.
James was the sole owner of the Eastern Conference for over a decade and joining forces with him pretty much granted you an easy ride to the NBA Finals. However, his losing record in basketball’s ultimate stage will always be a stain on his otherwise perfect resume.
But as we’ve said before, basketball is a team sport and while he’s had his fair share of All-Star teammates, he just can’t win on his own, even though he’s been pretty close to. That’s why today we’re going to try and provide some context by letting you know about his playoffs records vs. some of the best players in the league:
LeBron James vs. Al Horford 19-4
Al Horford spent most of his career with the Atlanta Hawks, meaning he had the to face James and his Cavaliers or Heat in the first round of the playoffs more often than not. As you may know by now, James has never lost a first-round series throughout his entire career.
Horford is one of the league’s most versatile stoppers. He’s had to face Bron in the paint or chase him all the way to the perimeter, but he’s found little success, as the King averages 28.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 7.7 dimes per game against him.
LeBron James vs. DeMar DeRozan 12-2
Before James left the Eastern Conference and the Toronto Raptors got Kawhi Leonard, it seemed like it was always the same story with their team. Regardless of how well they played, despite how dominant they could be on the regular season, and even if James’ teammates had an off game: LeBron would always beat the Raptors.
James pretty much put the last nail on the DeMar DeRozan era coffin up north. He made Masai Ujiri fire Dwane Casey despite winning COY because they simply didn’t have an answer for LeBron. Also, James averaged 29.3 points to DeRozan’s 21.0.
LeBron James vs. Paul George 16-7
The Indiana Pacers were the only team that we thought had a chance to beat the Miami Heat during the Big 3 era but they could never pull it off. They gave the King a lot of trouble and went the distance in the playoffs, but the outcome was always the same.
One of the reasons why everybody had high hopes for the Pacers was Paul George’s solid defense over the King. Still, we’re talking about prime LeBron here, so not even the best defense on earth was going to be able to contain him. Thus far, James has averaged 28.1 points vs. PG.
LeBron James vs. Derrick Rose 12-4
Derrick Rose was LeBron James’ biggest threat in the Eastern Conference during his early years. He was the league’s rising star, youngest MVP ever, and was poised to take the league for assault. Sadly, injuries pretty much demolished all hopes in the Windy City.
It feels like James always had the Bulls’ number. Regardless of Tom Thibodeau’s suffocating defense, the King always found a way to end on top. Still, there’s always the feeling that a healthy Derrick Rose could’ve put an end to his realm.
LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce 17-13
Let’s not fool ourselves. The Boston Celtics hated LeBron James. It’s as simple as that. They were incredibly physical and tough against him and just couldn’t stand to lose to him, especially Paul Pierce, who had the edge on that rivalry earlier on their career.
James’ Big 3 finally helped him overcome the Celtics towards the end of the last decade and he clearly outplayed Pierce in most of their matchups. The Truth averaged just 18.8 points per game compared to James’ 29.2 points against the Celtics.
LeBron James vs. Carmelo Anthony 4-1
LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have always been incredibly close but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a battle to the death when they faced each other, especially in the playoffs. Sadly for Melo, the Miami Heat was just too much to handle for his Knicks.
Melo was at the pinnacle of his career during his tenure in the Big Apple, but his supporting cast really let him down back in the 2012 playoffs. Anthony averaged 27.8/8.2/2.2 with 1.2 steals, but other than Amar’e Stoudemire’s 15.3 and J.R Smith’s 12.2 points per game, no other Knick averaged double-figures that series.
LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard 5-7
There’s no such thing as LeBron James’ Kryptonite but if it wasn’t, it would be pretty close to Kawhi Leonard. As a matter of fact, he’s the guy that’s done a better job defending LeBron in the history of the NBA, as he proved earlier on his career during the 2014 NBA Finals.
The Spurs and Heat developed a bit of a harsh rivalry in the mid-2010s with back-to-back faceoffs in the NBA Finals. Sadly for James, he went 5-7 on those matchups and ended up with a losing record vs. the Klaw, who averaged 14.6 and 17.8 points per game.
LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant 5-9
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth between Kevin Durant and LeBron James when it comes to proving who’s the best player on earth. However, it wasn’t until they faced each other again in the Finals that Durant had the edge over the guy who beat him in 2012.
Durant and the Thunder took a 4-1 beating in the Finals but KD got his payback when he joined the Golden State Warriors, as he got the best of James in back-to-back Finals and won a couple of Finals MVPs as well. Also, he’s slightly outplayed James on their matchups with averages of 29.8/7.3/4.3 with 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks.
LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 5-11
LeBron James made history by leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Finals back in 2007. However, it didn’t end well for the King as the Spurs swept him behind Tim Duncan’s 18.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game.
James would get back at The Big Fundamental in 2013 with a 4-3 triumph in the Finals, just to watch Gregg Popovich work his magic the very next year and beat them in just 5 games. Overall, James had a 15-21 record vs. Duncan and the Spurs.
LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry 7-15
And, obviously, this list wouldn’t be completed without Stephen Curry, the most influential player of the decade and the guy that has had the last laugh in 3 of the 4 times they’ve faced each other in the NBA Finals. Ironically, Curry’s yet to win a Finals MVP.
James has gone ballistic vs. Curry and the Warriors with averages of 31.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game but still, the Dubs beat them in 6, 5, and 4 games over a span of 4 years, but James pulled off the greatest upset in Finals history in 2016 when he came back from a 3-1 deficit to win in 7 games, so he’s got that going on for him.