LeBron James has had great teammates. Ranking Lakers star’s top ones
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LeBron James’ quest for his fourth NBA title began Wednesday night as the Los Angeles Lakers rolled the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Finals. Over the course of his 17-year career, which has featured 10 Finals appearances, James has had a number of great sidekicks, several who were key in helping him hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Here’s a ranking of his most complimentary teammates, excluding those he played with just in All-Star Games and with Team USA.
1. Anthony Davis. While James has been on teams with dominant backcourt players in his career, Davis is his first dominant, MVP-caliber big man. Davis’ numbers for 2019-20 were 26.1 points and 9.3 rebounds a game, and his game-winner in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals is evidence of James not needing to be the end-of-game hero he’s been on other teams.
2. Dwyane Wade. When James first signed with the Heat in 2010 following “The Decision,” among the criticisms of his move from the Cavaliers was that the Heat would be Wade’s team. That was quickly put to rest as James used his four-year tenure in Miami to solidify himself as the best player in the league. He won two titles and was MVP two times with the Heat largely thanks to his chemistry with Wade in the open court and Wade’s complementary style as a combo guard/scorer.
3. Kyrie Irving. When James returned to Cleveland a second time, Irving was the key complementary piece in initiating a championship run. His clutch 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals helped the Cavs upset the 73-win Golden State Warriors, one of the greatest teams in NBA history. Irving’s style as a creative, scoring point guard meshed well with James at that stage of his career, when he had found a way to score more with his back to the basket while using his size to dominate.
4. Chris Bosh. The third wheel of the Heat’s Big Three with James and Wade, Bosh left the Toronto Raptors as a top-10 player. While he had to sacrifice, he remained an All-Star and was a fitting third option that stacked up with the likes of other all-time third options like Dennis Rodman and Horace Grant from the 1990s Chicago Bulls. Bosh averaged 17.3 points per game with the Heat during James’ four years and rose to the occasion when the backcourt wasn’t firing on all cylinders, providing clutch jumpers and interior defense.
5. Kevin Love. Love was an elite player on the Minnesota Timberwolves and became a viable third option alongside James and Irving with the Cavaliers. His defense on Steph Curry in Game 7 of the ’16 Finals is most remembered, helping Cleveland secure the upset and the championship. He averaged 17.2 points a game in James’ four seasons the second time around with the Cavs.
6. Ray Allen. One of the best 3-point marksmen of all-time and a Hall of Famer, Allen left the rival Boston Celtics to join the Heat and he became the most pivotal role player of James career, helping Miami oust the San Antonio Spurs for the 2013 NBA title thanks to a career-defining three to force overtime in Game 6 of the Finals.
Follow reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.