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10 Players Who Never Won A Title Because Of LeBron James

10 Players Who Never Won A Title Because Of LeBron James

LeBron James is one of the greatest players in NBA history, and his dominance on the court has transcended the game. In year 19, James is still a top-five player in the game who continues to add to his Hall of Fame resume. The King has won 4 MVPs, 4 Finals MVPs, and 4 NBA titles with 3 different franchises. Everywhere LeBron went, he created a title contender.

But looking back at LeBron’s career, he had a similar impact to Michael Jordan in the sense that he prevented a lot of elite players from capturing NBA titles. The legendary Chicago Bulls star was responsible for legends such as Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Karl Malone going ringless in their Hall of Fame careers. LeBron James is also responsible for a lot of All-Star performers going ringless, during his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers.

Without further ado, here are the 10 players that went ringless thanks to LeBron James and his championship teams.


Honorable Mention


Paul Millsap

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 18:  Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks against the Sacramento Kings at Philips Arena on December 18, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

2015 Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks 4-0

2016 Eastern Conference Semifinals Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks 4-0

2020 Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets 4-1

Paul Millsap was never considered a superstar player, but he was a 4-time All-Star who contributed on both ends of the floor consistently. The forward was a capable defender and scorer at his position and formed a talented frontcourt with Al Horford.

But Millsap was not able to overcome the presence of The King, failing to make an impact with the top-seeded Hawks. The Cavaliers were led by the dominant presence of LeBron, who averaged 30.3 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 9.3 APG in the series. Millsap only put up 13.8 PPG in the series and did not have the brightest moment of his career. During the 2020 season, Millsap was a role player for the Nuggets who could not handle the Lakers led by James and Davis.


10. Al Horford

Al Horford Hawks

2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks 4-0

2015 Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks 4-0

2016 Eastern Conference Semifinals Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks 4-0

2017 Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics 4-1

2018 Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics 4-3

A talented big man with scoring and defensive ability, Al Horford never had any luck against The King’s teams. Alongside Paul Millsap, Horford could not overcome a dominant LeBron in his prime between 2015-2018, because The King was hell-bent on delivering titles to the Cavaliers franchise that drafted him. Of course, LeBron would win the title in 2016.

Horford was not a slouch in any of the above series, he just did not have the superstar talent that LeBron possessed on the court. Not to mention, James had the help of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love for the bulk of those victories against the Hawks and the 2017 victory against the Celtics.


9. Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson

2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks 4-0

2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn Nets 4-1

Many forget how great Joe Johnson was in his prime because he was a legitimate All-Star who could average 20 PPG in his sleep. A capable shooter who could create his own offense, “Iso Joe” was consistently making the Hawks a tough team to beat in the late 2000s and early 2010s. But Johnson could not overcome the best player in the league in LeBron in 2009, getting swept.

As part of the Brooklyn Nets experiment to win-now at the expense of first-round picks, Johnson was acquired to form a “superteam” alongside Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Deron Williams. The Nets were clearly past their prime because a prime LeBron and superteam Miami Heat took them apart in 5 games.


8. Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

2012 Eastern Conference First Round: Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks 4-1

2020 Western Conference First Round: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers 4-1

One of the greatest scorers ever, Carmelo Anthony brought a ton of excitement to New York, even if it did not lead to much playoff success. The superstar forward found himself on a decent team in 2012 with the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler playing beside him. Unfortunately for Melo, he had to play LeBron James and the Heat in the first round.

The 2012 season was one of redemption for The King, who had lost in the Finals in embarrassing fashion to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks year before. James took it out on New York, dropping 27.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 5.6 APG while nailing 47.8% of his shots from the field. Anthony chipped in 27.8 PPG and 8.2 RPG on 41.9% shooting, but it simply wasn’t enough.

In the 2020 Western Conference First Round, LeBron James led the Lakers against the Trail Blazers and once again eliminated Carmelo Anthony from the playoffs.


7. Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose

2010 Eastern Conference First Round: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls 4-1

2011 Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls 4-1

2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls 4-2

One of the most athletic players and a superstar that had his prime cut short by injuries, Derrick Rose helped make the Chicago Bulls a consistent playoff threat. Unfortunately for Rose and the Bulls, they consistently ran into LeBron James and his talented teams. The first loss came when James was in Cleveland, and The King was certainly the best player in the game at that point.

With Rose winning league MVP, he had a talented team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, the Bulls ran into James and the Miami Heat that would make the Finals. The Bulls came close, but could not manage to defeat the Big Three Heatles. Finally, Rose went to battle with James when The King returned to Cleveland, falling in 6 games once and for all.


6. Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry

2016 Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors 4-2

2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors 4-0

2018 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors 4-0

Kyle Lowry would have to patiently wait on the chance to capture his first NBA championship, and it came during the 2019 season when he had Kawhi Leonard as his teammate. But three straight years before that, Lowry was consistently falling short in the playoffs thanks to the dominant presence of LeBron James.

The Raptors received a ton of criticism for their inability to handle James, and many critics felt they feared and respected The King too much. Toronto never put up much of a fight against LeBron’s Cavaliers, whether The King had his teammates at full health or not. For Lowry, these playoff series were easily forgettable.


5. DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan

2016 Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors 4-2

2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors 4-0

2018 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors 4-0

Alongside Kyle Lowry was All-Star scorer DeMar DeRozan, who was playing some of the best basketball of his career. But for a variety of reasons, he could not match what LeBron was doing on the floor as the best player in the game. DeMar had Kyle Lowry by his side, but it simply was not enough to take down an unstoppable force in Cleveland.

Of course, DeRozan would get sacrificed for Kawhi Leonard in 2019, which did eventually bring a championship to the city of Toronto. DeMar is still one of the greatest Raptors players of all time, and if it wasn’t for LeBron James, he might have played in the NBA Finals at least once with the franchise that drafted him No. 9 overall.


4. Paul George

paul-george-gordon-hayward-boston-celtics-rumors

2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers 4-2

2013 Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers 4-3

2014 Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers 4-2

2017 Eastern Conference First Round: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers 4-1

The battles between Paul George in Indiana and LeBron James in Miami were truly some of the best moments during the 2010s because both stars had elite two-way skill sets that were similar. George and James often went head-to-head on offense, exciting fans with their offensive displays.

But quite frankly, Paul George was not on the level of LeBron James and his team could not match what Miami had. George had some help with the likes of Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson, and David West; but none of those players could be mistaken for the likes of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh who are Hall of Fame talents. George came close to taking down LeBron, but it was never meant to be.


3. Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler To Karl-Anthony Towns- "You're Soft As Baby Sh*t."

2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls 4-1

2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls 4-2

2020 NBA Finals: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat 4-2

Jimmy Butler had an incredible playoff run with the Miami Heat in 2020 because nobody expected the superstar to be in the Finals ahead of the Bucks or even the 76ers. Miami were a strong team led by Butler and Bam Adebayo, but they overcame a ton of odds to reach the Finals against a talented Lakers squad.

Unfortunately for Butler, his Miami Heat team were severely depleted as both Adebayo and star point guard Goran Dragic went out injured. That left Butler to fend for himself, and he put forth a Herculean effort by averaging 26.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG, and 9.8 APG in 43.0 MPG. Due to LeBron’s greatness and the presence of Anthony Davis, Butler lost in the Finals. Of course, Butler also lost to LeBron as a member of the Chicago Bulls, where he was growing into a star alongside Derrick Rose.


2. Russell Westbrook

Credit: NBAE

Credit: NBAE

2012 NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1

2020 Western Conference Semifinals: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets 4-1

Russell Westbrook was only 23 years old when he made the Finals the one time in his career, but he was already an All-Star point guard with surreal athleticism. The superstar player showed up in the Finals against The King and the Heat, averaging 27.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 6.6 APG despite shooting only 13.6% from the three-point line.

The point guard formed a dominant duo with Kevin Durant all season long and was easily the second-best player on the team. Russell knew the task ahead of him against Miami, but he still was the 3rd leading scorer in the series behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. The point guard was still not able to overcome Miami, who were simply a better and more experienced team. Westbrook was also a part of the Rockets team that faltered badly against the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs during “the bubble”.


1. James Harden

James Harden

2012 NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1

2020 Western Conference Semifinals: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets 4-1

James Harden had a great season in 2012, winning 6th man of the year after taking his averages to 16.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 3.7 APG. Alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Harden was expected to lead the young Oklahoma City Thunder to a competitive series against LeBron James and the Heat.

But Harden did not have a great series, putting up 12.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 3.6 APG while only shooting 37.5% from the field. The Beard’s image as a star who does not play well in big games started in 2012, although it was only his third professional season so he often gets a pass. Nonetheless, Harden has not returned to the Finals since 2012 and his losing effort to LeBron and the Heat likely sticks in his memory. Unfortunately for Harden, he could not lead the Rockets past LeBron in 2020 either, falling short in 5 games.

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