LeBron James is as competitive as they come on the basketball court, but that hasn’t stopped him from making best friends while in the NBA. Everybody knows about the infamous Banana Boat crew, and he has forged numerous other friendships during his time in the league.
Here are LeBron’s five best buddies in the NBA.
5. Anthony Davis
When Anthony Davis signed with Klutch Sports, LeBron James’ agency, in 2018, it almost seemed inevitable that he would find himself in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform playing alongside The King. After failed attempts to acquire him during the 2018-19 season, the Lakers finally traded for the big man to form a superstar pairing with James.
As soon as AD arrived in Los Angeles, James did not waste time establishing an off-court relationship with the former New Orleans Pelicans superstar. James invited Davis to his home on multiple occasions, featuring him in his viral Taco Tuesday videos.
Their great friendship off the court has translated on the court as well, showcasing great chemistry together for the Lakers this season. The two stars seemingly perfect fit alongside each other has made Los Angeles a strong contender to lift up this year’s Larry O’Brien Trophy.
4. Kevin Durant
Many would view Kevin Durant as LeBron’s fiercest rival on the court. The two have faced off in three NBA Finals thus far in 2012, 2017, and 2018. Likewise, James and Durant were also fighting for the “best player in the world” title for a good chunk of the previous decade.
Nonetheless, despite the competition, the two have become pretty close pals off the court. James and Durant became teammates together on the 2012 Team USA Olympic squad that bagged the gold medal in London. Likewise, the special Uber interview they had with Cari Champion in 2018 gave fans a snapshot of their friendship. James also selected Durant first overall in the NBA All-Star Draft in 2018 and 2019.
Obviously, while the two have a ton of respect for each other as players, their relationship goes way beyond the basketball court.
3. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James entered the NBA together in the same draft class in 2003. James went first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Anthony landed at No. 3 to the Denver Nuggets. The two have known each other since high school.
They met for the first time right before James’ St. Vincent-St. Mary squad went up against Anthony’s Oak Hill Academy in what became a highly anticipated matchup in the prep ranks. Since then, James and Anthony have kept a special bond with each other.
While LeBron and Melo haven’t played together in the NBA, they did get the opportunity to become teammates on Team USA. They played in three Olympics together — 2004, 2008, and 2012 — and won two gold medals as teammates.
James and Anthony entered the league with expectations to be franchise changers. However, their careers have taken quite a different route. James has three NBA championships and four MVPs attached to his name. Anthony, meanwhile, has failed to find sustained team success in his career, having made it past the first round just twice in 11 postseason appearances.
While their careers have taken different paths, James and Anthony will remain brothers forever.
2. Chris Paul
Chris Paul came into the NBA two years after LeBron James. Nonetheless, the two-year gap didn’t prevent the two from becoming close friends.
James and Paul became teammates on the 2012 Team USA Olympic squad that defeated Spain for the gold medal. They also spent a lot of time together as part of the National Basketball Players Association. Paul continues to serve as the union’s president to this day, while James was recently a vice president.
James and Paul have both expressed the desire to play alongside each other in the NBA. While they haven’t done so, Paul admitted that it did come close to happening, though he did not specify exactly when.
Even though the two are already at the tail end of their respective careers, they are still playing at high levels for their age. Perhaps an opportunity to play together with the Lakers may be in the books at some point in the near future.
1. Dwyane Wade
Like Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade also entered the league at the same time as LeBron James, going fifth overall to the Miami Heat. The two met each for the first time at the NBA’s annual draft combine, and that’s where the foundation of their brotherhood started.
In 2010, Wade recruited James to come to South Beach to form a superteam with fellow 2003 draft alum Chris Bosh. Wade and James formed one of the most dynamic duos in NBA history.
It took some time, but eventually, their strong bond off the court translated into some beautiful basketball between the two stars. They created magnificent highlights together, mostly coming in the form of Wade to James alley-oops. Along with Bosh, they led Miami to four NBA Finals and back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.
In the summer of 2014, their brotherhood was put to the test when James left the Heat via free agency to return home to Cleveland. James didn’t give Wade enough of a heads-up about his decision to undo the partnership they had created four years prior.
Still, that did not sour their relationship at all. Despite the way James left town, Wade urged Heat fans to shower his good pal with love when he made his return to South Beach that season.
Wade and James attempted to reform their partnership in Cleveland in the 2017-18 season. However, the Heat legend didn’t quite fit in with the Cavaliers. Midway through the season, without any intervention from his best friend, Cleveland rightfully traded Wade back to Miami, where he eventually finished his career.
Despite going through a lot of adversity together, either as teammates or opponents, Wade and James will always remain brothers for life.