LeBron James has been in countless battles throughout his Hall of Fame career, whether they were in the regular season or the playoffs. LeBron’s ability to carry teams on his shoulders year in and year out while playing at an extremely high level is what places him firmly in the GOAT debate. What James is doing at 36 years old is truly unprecedented, and he continues to defy logic.
But which players have James played against, resulting in the most losses in his record? James has had a long list of rivalries against some of the best teams of all time, and it is clear that he was not always able to come out on top on most occasions. By calculating the most losses against particular opponents, here are the opponents who have sent The King home with L’s on his career record.
Manu Ginobili - 23 Wins (15-23 Record)
Manu Ginobili was one of LeBron’s greatest rivals. James has met the San Antonio Spurs 3 times in the NBA Finals, losing 2 and spectacularly winning 1. LeBron’s battles with the Spurs started in the 2007 Finals, where The King was unable to lead his team to a single victory in a 4-0 sweep. Overall, James has battled the legendary Argentinian 38 times, losing 23 times. James holds the advantage stat-wise (25.9 PPG vs. 13.5 PPG) but it was the Spurs legend who often got the last laugh with 23 wins out of 38.
10. Draymond Green - 23 Wins (14-23 Record)
Yet another Golden State Warrior that was one of LeBron’s greatest enemies, Draymond Green has had historical battles with The King. Considered the vocal leader and defensive specialist of the juggernaut Warriors teams that made 5 Finals, Green was often tasked with defending LeBron James whenever The King took his business inside. As expected, James holds the advantages in stats (25.3 PPG vs. 10.1 PPG in the regular season, and 32.7 PPG vs. 12.8 PPG in the playoffs). But Green was often a thorn in James’ side, winning 23 times against The King.
9. Klay Thompson - 23 Wins (12-23 Record)
A member of the dominant Golden State Warriors team that made 5 straight NBA Finals, Klay Thompson is unsurprisingly on the list of opponents who sent James home packing with a loss. Thompson and the Warriors often got the better of LeBron, mainly in the postseason, by defeating him in 3 out of 4 Finals appearances. Thompson’s ability to space the floor, alongside some Hall of Famers such as Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, has made the 3-time NBA champion one of LeBron’s greatest foes.
8. Ray Allen - 25 Wins (23-25 Record)
One of the greatest shooters in NBA history, the man who ranks 1st in all-time 3-pointers made has defeated LeBron James 25 times. The record between each other is nearly .500, but it is amazing how many great battles Allen had with James. Before Ray Allen helped LeBron win his second NBA championship, he was one of the Big Three with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston. Allen and company had amazing matchups with LeBron’s Miami Heat teams in the regular season and playoffs, although LeBron always managed better stats (31.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 7.2 APG). Still, Allen played on some great teams and was a great foe for LeBron before he became a valuable teammate.
7. Rajon Rondo - 25 Wins (31-25 Record)
Unsurprisingly, a pattern is forming here. LeBron’s greatest foes were on the teams that gave The King the most trouble when he played in Cleveland and Miami. Rajon Rondo was the starting point guard for the contending Boston Celtics every year, using his sublime playmaking skills to be a thorn in LeBron’s Cleveland and Miami teams. Rondo had a strong crew behind him but was still able to average 9.4 PPG and 9.2 APG in the regular season, boosting those numbers to 15.8 PPG and 9.2 APG in the playoffs. “Playoff Rondo” was very effective in uplifting his teammates, although James often got the final laugh on paper and in the win columns.
6. Rasheed Wallace - 27 Wins (24-27 Record)
Another great team that LeBron James faced was the Detroit Pistons, led by their group of stars in Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace. Wallace was an ultra-competitive power forward who could space the floor and score inside, and was often tasked with protecting the rim on LeBron’s drives. Wallace was mostly in his 30’s when he played against LeBron and had no chance in matching up stats. LeBron averaged 26.6 PPG in the regular season and 27.3 PPG in the postseason against Wallace, but could not manage to earn a .500 record against him. James did, however, have a legendary performance against Detroit where he scored 25 straight points in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals.
5. Shaun Livingston - 28 Wins (25-28 Record)
Yet another Golden State Warrior appears on the list, this time backup point guard Shaun Livingston. Stephen Curry was the man playing the bulk of the minutes at the point, but Livingston was tasked with bringing his size and mid-range scoring to the table when Curry needed a rest. Livingston was an ultimate professional, playing with heart and always staying true to his role. He also managed to win 28 games against LeBron, while losing 25 in a total of 53 hotly contested matchups. Livingston averaged 7.0 PPG and 7.7 PPG in the regular season and postseason respectively, whereas The King unsurprisingly put up his standard numbers of 27.4 PPG and 32.5 PPG in the regular season and postseason. Livingston averaged over 20 MPG in all 53 encounters with The King and is one LeBron’s greatest foes as a backup player.
4. Kevin Garnett - 29 Wins (31-29 Record)
The intense battles between Kevin Garnett and LeBron James created a ton of memories for NBA fans during their time on the court together. The Boston Celtics struck gold when they acquired Kevin Garnett (and Ray Allen) to join Paul Pierce, and they immediately became title contenders. After a few early battles with Garnett when he was in Minnesota, LeBron often had to get through “The Big Ticket” to have postseason success. James averaged 29.0 PPG in the regular season, taking that mark to 29.1 PPG in the postseason. Meanwhile, Garnett averaged 16.6 PPG and 9.8 RPG in the regular season and 16.0 PPG and 9.4 RPG in the playoffs. James will always have better numbers than any key opponent he ever faced, although he did fall to Garnett’s teams 29 times out of 60.
3. David West - 30 Wins (33-30 Record)
While David West was a role player for the Golden State Warriors teams that battled James often in the regular season and playoffs, he also had matchups with The King when he was with the New Orleans Hornets. West had a long and successful career, a 2-time All-Star with the Hornets and a veteran role player for the championship Warriors teams.
2. Andre Iguodala - 30 Wins (39-30 Record)
Andre Iguodala once won Finals MVP for the Golden State Warriors for not allowing LeBron James to average 50 PPG in the Finals….seriously. Iguodala was tasked with defending James every time they were on the floor across from each other and did a phenomenal job of preventing The King from taking over the series singlehandedly. With both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love out of action, James took matters into his own hands but it was not enough in the 2015 Finals.
But beyond that Finals series victory, Iguodala has managed a total of 30 wins against The King. LeBron has the advantage of 39 total wins, averaging 27.7 PPG and 30.5 PPG in the regular season and postseason respectively. Interestingly enough, Iguodala has managed 16 wins compared to LeBron’s 15 wins in the playoffs, a stat which Iggy will find most important.
1. Paul Pierce - 34 Wins (35-34 Record)
LeBron’s greatest foe and the man who delivered the most losses in LeBron’s career as an individual was Paul Pierce. Unless you ask Pierce himself, nobody places the Celtics legend ahead of James in terms of talent and skill. James is a one-of-a-kind forward, the type that comes along once in a lifetime. But Pierce is a Hall of Famer and players with his ability and mental toughness do not come around often, which is why the scoring forward delivered 34 losses to LeBron’s resume. Joining Garnett and Ray Allen in Boston meant we got to see countless playoff battles between Pierce and James, and their history will go down in NBA lore whenever topics of the 2010s era are discussed.