Every player has favorite teammates. LeBron James has them, too. And then there are players’ least favorite teammates. Though some may immediately verbalize how much they dislike some of their co-workers, James isn’t as vocal about his for fear of disrupting the team’s culture and the overall media sensationalism that will come out of that.
Instead, James has his passive-aggressive way of treating issues with teammates like tweeting about them but not naming them.
Though James will never acknowledge anyone to be his least favorite, we thought of tackling the issue based on what we’ve seen on and off the court. We’re not saying James hates these players, he just doesn’t like them quite as much as he could have.
See if you agree with our top 10 least favorite teammates of LeBron James.
10. Kyrie Irving
Among James’ All-Star teammates, Irving is probably his least favorite. James played with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Hughes, Antawn Jamison and Ben Wallace, but none of these have been as challenging as Irving. To be fair, James appreciates Irving’s talents and the fact that he helped deliver a title to the Cavs with his dagger three in the final minute of Game 7. That series bonded the two stars.
But, there were days when the two clearly didn’t see eye to eye. Many of them, actually.
Irving is headstrong which helps him be the closer that he is. But during crunch time, it was hard for either of the two to decide who should have the ball and who should shoot it. As a passer, LeBron James willingly gave up the ball to Irving if he was open. However, the ball didn’t always go to James at the end of games because Irving decided to take over instead. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn’t. That’s why the two stars are better off playing for different teams now.
9. J.R. Smith
It’s feast or famine when you’re teammates with someone as streaky and emotional as Smith. In the infamous Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals with a few seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Cavs tied with the Warriors, Smith rebounded the missed free throw from his teammate, George Hill. Rather than give the ball to James for the game-winner, Smith dribbled out the clock thinking they were ahead.
A visibly frustrated James yelled at Smith as the two headed for the bench, and you could tell that the game (and the series) was over from there. James refused to acknowledge Smith’s presence nor anyone else for that matter during a break in the action.
If James had a choice, he’d rather have had a more consistent shooter for a teammate rather than someone who makes boneheaded plays at crucial moments like occasionally Smith does. LeBron would much rather him hang out on the bench, as he mostly did during his Lakers stint.
8. Old Man Wade
There’s a popular series of Marvel comic books that are set in the near future where Wolverine is already an old guy with the X-Men already dead and gone. The series is called Old Man Logan, and it was followed up later on by Old Man Hawkeye.
The Dwyane Wade that James received in the 2017-18 season for the Cavs is the Old Man Wade version of his best friend. This version of Wade was no longer the high-flying version from his Miami Heat days. Instead, this version of Wade wasn’t as helpful to the team any longer, averaging a measly 11.2 points per game. He never really found his groove with the Cavs and when things weren’t going well for the team chemistry-wise, Wade was shipped back to Miami for virtually little more than pocket change.
For James to sign off on the deal, he must not have really wanted Wade to play with him anymore as the Chicago native wasn’t going to play a lot of minutes any longer with the new players coming in from trades.
7. Luke Jackson
He may not have gotten on the King’s nerves, but Luke Jackson never did anything on the court that endeared him to LeBron James either. Jackson was drafted 10th overall in the 2004 NBA draft, supposedly as a three-point shooter to help space the floor for LeBron. Instead, Jackson languished on the bench as a rookie who had no idea how he could fit in and adapt to the professional league. He averaged a horrible 2.9 points a game.
In his sophomore campaign, he shot only 33 percent from beyond the arc, scoring only 2.7 per contest.
Guess who the Cavs passed up on in the draft to get Jackson? Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin, and Trevor Ariza.
6. Darius Miles
Miles entered the league directly out of high school to play for the Clippers but was traded to the Cavs 2002-03 season. He would soon play with LeBron James during his rookie year in the 2003-04 season. But, he wasn’t too impressed with James coming to the team when he said in an interview:
Ricky knew, Smush was a little off the mark, but ooh wee, Booze and Darius must have been smoking something. 😂pic.twitter.com/QvkVLmfvak
— Adam Howes (@Howsito) May 27, 2017
“I don’t think you can just bring a high school player in and really just think your team is gonna turn around like that,” Miles said. “If he comes, he can just hop on our bandwagon, and hopefully we can do something big.”
Miles averaged just 8.9 points in only 37 games before he was traded. If James was enamored with his fellow preps-to-pros teammate, (and if they played well together for that matter) Miles would not have been traded.
Sorry, Miles, but it looks like you got booted off the bandwagon that James took over from you guys.
5. Mario Chalmers
Chalmers was James and Wade’s favorite whipping boy during the former’s Miami Heat playing days. Chalmers was quite the serviceable point guard for the Heat, someone who played very good defense and could knock down the open three-pointer. He even made a couple of clutch baskets, too.
But Chalmers never liked being embarrassed like that in front of a packed arena and in front of the camera. You could tell that James was just content to have a 6-foot-2 guard who could at least do two good things, though he probably wished he had someone better at the point guard spot.
4. Isaiah Thomas
The Cavaliers thought that they could get the 2016-17 Isaiah Thomas when they traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics.
LeBron James likely did, too. By the time Thomas returned to the court in January of 2018 after coming off a season-ending injury the year before, he was a shell of himself.
“They don’t play together at all on the court,” Windhorst said. “A couple days ago our stats and information group sent me that Isaiah was shooting less than 20 percent on passes from LeBron, so LeBron’s throwing him passes and Isaiah’s making none of them.”
The problem wasn’t just Thomas’ production, which could be attributed to his recovery; it was his attitude. When the Cavs were losing games regularly, guys started talking badly about teammates. The 5-foot-11 point guard was one of them. Thomas reportedly called out Kevin Love for bailing out on the team when he left before a game was over even though the power forward said he was sick.
This definitely did not sit well with James. In all his years in the league, it’s hard to remember a worse locker room moment than the time when his teammates questioned one another in Cleveland. So, off went Thomas to the Lakers before the trade deadline.
3. Dion Waiters
During James’ early second tour of duty in Cleveland, he inherited a team that had a bunch of talented young players who needed to learn how to win. Waiters was one of them. A gifted scorer who had to have the ball in his hands much of the time, Waiters wanted to shoot too much. The problem is, number 23 wanted the ball in hands most of the time, too. He needs spot-up shooters and not one-on-one players, which Irving and Waiters were. Since Irving was the more talented of the two, Waiters had to go.
Cleveland traded the shooting guard in a three-team deal that sent him packing to Oklahoma City. The team received J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in return, two players who were instrumental in giving James his much-coveted title in Cleveland. Waiters, meanwhile, was bitter about the trade by letting everyone know that he hadn’t made contact with James in years, per Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group. Of course, Waiters joined LeBron with the Lakers late this season, winning a ring as a role player for Los Angeles.
2. Ricky Davis
Doug Sibor of Complex.com mentioned that Davis thought of James as another player on the team that would help him and not the other way around.
“I thought LeBron James was just going to be another addition to help me score.”
Ricky Davis wanted to be “the Man” in Cleveland, and no rookie was going to take that away from him, even if it was one of the most talented players he would ever play with. It was clear that Davis wasn’t about to let a rookie upstage him, so he hoisted up 14 shots a night despite making only 43.1 percent of them.
Needless to say, he wasn’t one of James’ favorite teammates. So, the Cavaliers traded Davis months later and that paved the way for the phenom James to win Rookie of the Year honors by the end of the season.
1. Delonte West
West was pretty good when he was teammates with James from way back, but he would sometimes disappear during the playoffs and there was a time he literally disappeared from the lineup!
Then, rumors started popping up about West and James’ mother. Whether the allegations were true or not, that’s when things went downhill between them and for the Cavs in the 2010 playoffs. Cleveland soon bowed out of the postseason to the Boston Celtics and James bolted for the Heat months later.
The beef between the two didn’t end there. As recent as 2016, West took more than a few shots at his former teammate with posts on Instagram and Twitter which have since been taken down. Hip Hop Wired’s Lance Strong was able to copy a couple of those posts.
“@kingjames we not cool anymore man.. Take my name out ur mouth.. And stay wit one team..u suck jo..u need all stars surrounding u to win ..talk bout my fam again n watch wats gunna happen jo..it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt,” West said.
“F*ck a Lebron James .. We used to be cool jo be we aren’t cool no more Homie,” West tweeted.
Posts like these will more than put you in James’ least favorite teammate category, although I’m sure James wishes nothing but the best for West as he rehabilitates with the help of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.