For all achievements and heights that LeBron James has reached in his career, he was not spared from a few downfalls. In these roadblocks, a number of characters have made The King feel like a commoner. Batman has The Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. LeBron James has the following people act as antagonists at one point in his career.
10 – Dikembe Mutombo’s Elbow
In a game between the Rockets and Cavaliers on December 30, 2004, Dikembe Mutombo introduced LeBron James to himself along with his notorious elbow. It left the birthday celebrant, yes, it happened on James’ day, with a broken left cheekbone and was forced to wear a mask. Deke’s elbows are very much a threat to both peers and foes that former Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy once required Mutombo to wear elbow pads in practice. According to ESPN, up until that LeBron injury, Mutombo had quite a list of players he left injuries. There were 25 injured players, five broken noses, 20 stitches in total. Quite a resume for a guy who is now one of the most charitable post-NBA people out there.
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9 – Metta World Peace
Before the Celtics, Pistons, and Spurs provided disappointments to LeBron James, Metta World Peace, then known as Ron Artest, was LeBron’s earliest tormentor in the NBA. James had a 1-6 record against Artest in his first three years while being limited to 23 points per game on a very much un-LeBron-like 44% shooting. During those years, it was evident that The King seemed to have trouble against the former Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest who was obviously in peak form.
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8 – Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James may not share that many heated encounters but the German future Hall of Famer gave James one of the biggest losses of his career. The Nowitzki-led Mavericks team beat LeBron James’ Miami Heat squad in the 2011 NBA Finals. James and company were heavily favored going into the series, but Dirk had other things in mind.
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7 – Charles Barkley
Sir Charles may have been popularly linked with LeBron James by being one of the more vocal critics of LeBron’s move to Miami in 2011. But even before that, James has already involved himself in a mini-war of words with Chuck. Words such as “punk” and “stupid” have been said between the two but thanks to technology, they were able to settle the score on the court as seen in the video.
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6 – Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan is a good guy. He’s never talked trash with LeBron James. He just let his game do the talking and that resulted in two NBA Finals victories over James. Those two series conquests were quite a pain to LeBron with the first one having himself get swept by Duncan’s Spurs and the second one preventing a three-peat by the Miami Heat.
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5 – DeShawn Stevenson
It all started with Drew Gooden, apparently, as he tipped off Stevenson on what LeBron said about him. It obviously ticked off DeShawn and called James “overrated”. James went on to compare Stevenson to Soulja Boy to his Jay Z. The rift between the two added more color to the highly entertaining Washington-Cleveland playoff matchups from before. Ironically, in 2013, Stevenson called out LeBron on Twitter asking him to get him a spot on the Miami Heat roster.
Miami Heat Where I Wanna Go!!! Lebron Make it Happen
— dsteve92 & JMarie (@DSteve92JMarie) August 4, 2013
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4 – Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah is perhaps the only player in the league who loves yapping at LeBron James. These two share a lot of moments together but these aren’t friendly ones. From the dance to the slap, it looks like we’ll only get to see more as their two teams appear to be setting up another date in the playoffs’ second round.
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3 – Skip Bayless
Skip Bayless of ESPN’s First Take is the biggest LeBron hater of all-time. And it’s not close. No media personality has or ever will ever come close to Bayless as far as criticizing LeBron James goes. He’s always on the lookout for anything that he could twist to fire at James. Just type in both of their respective names and your screen will blow up with tons of stuff between the two, but all were initiated by ol’ Skippy.
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2 – Paul Pierce
These two share a lot of classic battles against each other that LeBron James has already said on record that he considers Paul Pierce to be his biggest rival. Pierce was indeed a thorn on James’ playoff aspirations by eliminating the latter’s Cavaliers in two playoff series. Even when Pierce got traded to Brooklyn, the path of these two greats still crossed in one postseason matchup.
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1 – Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry and the Warriors unfortunately defeated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals last year. Since then, Curry has improved his play dramatically leading his team to a 46-4 record while James has struggled at times this season with his shot and his team, as the Cavs sit at 36-14. Many are starting to label Curry as the NBA’s best player, but they better slow their roll as the playoffs approach us. Not that Curry isn’t one of the best, but James always is the clear cut best player when it really matters.