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5 best players who have not won an NBA Championship because of LeBron James

James Harden and LeBron James in the 2020 NBA Playoffs
James Harden and LeBron James in the 2020 NBA Playoffs
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Modified 09 Apr 2021
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LeBron James holds many NBA Playoff records. The King has played in a whopping 10 NBA Finals with three different franchises, has won four championships and is the all-time leader in playoff games (260) and playoff wins (172).

Unfortunately for his rivals, LeBron James' success in the NBA Playoffs has impeded some stars from winning NBA championships.

5 best players who LeBron James prevented from winning the NBA title

During the 1990s, Michael Jordan famously stopped some legends from holding the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy.

In this era of basketball, it has been LeBron James who has kept players away from the championship in a lot of cases.

Here, we will take a look at the five best players who ran into LeBron James in the NBA Playoffs and could not defeat King James' teams.


#5 Carmelo Anthony

James and Anthony in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
James and Anthony in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
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Carmelo Anthony entered the NBA in the same draft as LeBron James in 2003. He competed and arguably deserved the 2003-04 Rookie of the Year award over James.

Unfortunately for Melo, he could not impose himself against James in the NBA Playoffs during his prime and failed to do it with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2020 either.

Carmelo started his career with the Denver Nuggets. After failing to reach the NBA Finals at Denver (they fell to Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers in the 2009 Western Conference Finals), he moved to the East.

With the New York Knicks, Anthony faced LeBron James' Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Playoffs' first round, but the Heat won the series in five games. Anthony played in the Eastern Conference postseason in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and LeBron James' team represented the East in the NBA Finals each time.

Recently, Anthony faced LeBron James' LA Lakers in the 2020 NBA Playoffs' first round, and his Portland Trail Blazers fell in five games. He averaged 21.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game with 42/32/78 shooting splits in 10 postseason games against LeBron James.


#4 DeMar DeRozan

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DeRozan and James in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
DeRozan and James in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Before the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA championship, DeMar DeRozan was the key piece for the franchise but ran into LeBron James time and time again.

DeRozan led the Toronto Raptors to the NBA Playoffs five consecutive times, from the 2013-14 NBA season to the 2017-18 campaign. Each time, the Raptors were a Top-4 team in the East, and they even had the best record of the Eastern Conference in 2018.

In three of those five times, LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Playoffs.

DeRozan's Raptors lost to LeBron James' Cavaliers in the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals in six games and were swept in the second round in 2017 and 2018.

In 14 postseason games against James, the Toronto Raptors had a 2-12 record. DeRozan averaged 20 points, three rebounds and three assists per game.


#3 Jimmy Butler

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Butler and James in the 2020 NBA Finals.
Butler and James in the 2020 NBA Finals.

Jimmy Butler's incredible run with the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Playoffs was stopped by the LA Lakers and LeBron James in the NBA Finals. James ultimately took the Finals MVP award.

Butler's NBA career started in the 2011-12 season with the Chicago Bulls. He met with LeBron James in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, when the Bulls fell to the Miami Heat in five games.

He's faced LeBron James in the postseason two other times, in 2015 with the Chicago Bulls (lost in a six-game series against James' Cleveland Cavaliers) and the 2020 NBA Finals (the LA Lakers won in six games).

Butler's teams have a 5-12 record in the postseason against LeBron James' teams. In those encounters, Butler has been solid, with averages of 21.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, five assists and two steals per game with 47/37/89 shooting splits.


#2 Paul George

LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against Paul George in the 2013 ECF.
LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against Paul George in the 2013 ECF.
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Paul George is currently a crosstown rival of LeBron James' LA Lakers. In his second season with the LA Clippers, George and his squad are again expected to fight against the LA Lakers in the NBA Playoffs. Last year, the LA Clippers did not hold their end of the bargain and did not face the LA Lakers in the WCF.

If they meet again, George will be looking to advance past LeBron James in the postseason for the first time in his career. George's teams have faced James in the postseason in four series, all with the Indiana Pacers (against Miami in 2012-2014, and the Cavs in 2017).

In 23 games in the NBA Playoffs versus James, George's teams have seven wins and 16 losses, while PG averaged 19.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game.


#1 James Harden

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets exits the court after their loss to LA Lakers in the Western Conference Second Round.
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets exits the court after their loss to LA Lakers in the Western Conference Second Round.

LeBron James has prevented many great players from winning an NBA championship, but James Harden is arguably the best one. Harden is now on a team that is looking to end James' LA Lakers reign.

Harden played against LeBron James in the 2012 NBA Finals and in last year's second round of the postseason. The Beard was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2012, when he played with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the OKC Thunder, but James' Miami Heat won the championship in five games (it was LeBron's first championship).

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With the Houston Rockets, Harden ran into LeBron James' LA Lakers in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, and his team fell again in five games.

In 10 games versus a LeBron James-led team in the postseason, Harden's squads have a 2-8 record. He also had averages of 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game with 46/36/83 shooting splits.


Also read: 2020-21 NBA season: Top 5 two-way players in the league right now

Published 09 Apr 2021, 08:11 IST
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