5 players who dominated LeBron James in a one-on-one matchup

LeBron James
LeBron James

LeBron James is a freak of nature. He's among the very few players in the NBA to possess the varied skillset to play in all five positions.

The LA Lakers star can drive to the basket, dunk or just pull up from anywhere on the court. As difficult as it is to defeat the 4-time MVP in a basketball game, it's even harder to get the better of him in a one-on-one matchup.

However, in this article, we'll take a look at some of the rare instances when players managed to beat King James in a one-on-one situation.

5 players who dominated LeBron James one-on-one

In his illustrious career spanning 17 years, no single player has managed to dominate LeBron James on the offensive end and shut him down completely on the defensive end at the same time. In this article, we take a look at five instances when a few players came close to doing that.

#5 Jimmy Butler

Chicago Bulls vs Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls vs Indiana Pacers

This is one of the rare instances where a team ended up losing a series despite a player successfully locking down LeBron James. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2013, the Chicago Bulls upset the mighty Miami Heat, thanks to Jimmy Butler.

In the absence of the Bulls' Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler was asked to guard LeBron James in Game 1.

Butler's toughness and determination were on full display as he restricted James to just two points in the first half. Butler also scored 21 points and helped Chicago clinch the first game of the series.

Though Miami Heat came back strongly to win the series, Jimmy Butler announced his presence to the world as one of the best defenders in the league.

#4 Andre Iguodala

2015 NBA Finals - Practice
2015 NBA Finals - Practice

Andre Iguodala was awarded the NBA Finals MVP in 2015 just for his outstanding defense on LeBron James. Even though Iguodala didn't 'shut him down' completely, he wore James down and forced him to take low percentage shots throughout the series.

LeBron James was still the best scorer in the 2014-15 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. But when James was guarded by Iggy, the former only made 33% of his field goals and was 11-46 on contested shots made.

Also read: LeBron James' 5 worst performances in an NBA Playoff series.

#3 Kevin Durant

2017 NBA Finals - Game Five
2017 NBA Finals - Game Five

The 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals provided something rare to the fans that they usually never get to see. The top two players in the world, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, went head to head against each other on the biggest stage in basketball.

The result, however, was one-sided. Though the Warriors had players like Draymond Green and Iguodala to switch on LeBron James, it was Durant who spent a lot of time guarding James in both the finals.

Though there was no clear winner in the one-on-one matchup between James and Durant, the 31-year-old sniper was clearly more efficient on offense and ended up winning the Finals MVP on both occasions.

#2 Tony Parker

Portland Trail Blazers vs San Antonio Spurs
Portland Trail Blazers vs San Antonio Spurs

A 23-year-old LeBron James made it to his first NBA Finals in 2007. While King James was determined to continue his impressive playoff run and make history with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the San Antonio Spurs had other ideas.

Tony Parker and the crew swept Cleveland in four straight games to claim their third NBA title in five years. While LeBron James got points on board, his inability to defend Tony Parker stood out the most in the series.

Parker absolutely schooled the youngster with his agility and playmaking abilities as he went on to win his first NBA Finals MVP that year.

#1 Kawhi Leonard

2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day and Media Availability
2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day and Media Availability

Kawhi Leonard earned the title of 'LeBron stopper' for his defense on LeBron James in the 2014 NBA Finals.

With the star-studded Miami Heat going for their third ring that year, the 22-year-old shocked the entire world by locking down LeBron James the entire series.

Though LeBron James' numbers looked good on paper, he shot only 34% from the field when guarded by 'the Klaw'. Even though Kawhi Leonard wasn't an offensive threat back in the day, he won the 2014 NBA Finals MVP just because of his defense on LeBron James.

Quick Links

Edited by Bhargav