As the most accomplished player since Michael Jordan, it is only natural that LeBron James would be an incredibly polarizing figure. The accomplishments that James has garnered are rivaled by none in his sport today. With the amount of success that James has had, it is natural for there be to be some jaded and bitter folks out there, as well as some who hold Bron in the highest regard. People who have had their chances at greatness snatched away by LeBron would obviously hold less than friendly feelings toward The King. On the other hand, people who have supported him and been with him through some of his journeys would have great admiration for such a leader.
James has been an NBA superstar for over thirteen years and he has also been a fierce businessman off the court during those same thirteen years. In the business world, there is no doubt a business mentality. Along with that mentality comes the necessity to be a little cut-throat. As in basketball, in the world of high stakes business, it is easy to make and lose friends.
With all these elements in play, it is not easy to narrow this list down to just 8 who love James and 8 who hate him, but we have done the work for you. Enjoy.
16. Love: James Jones
James Jones and LeBron James became teammates in 2010 when LeBron arrived in Miami. The two hit if off beautifully. James looked up to Jones and his level of professionalism as well as his tireless work ethic. As the seasons passed, the two became even closer, spending off-seasons training together and often times spending entire plane rides talking with one and other.
After spending four years together in Miami, LeBron famously went back home to Cleveland. He also came back to Ohio with his friend James Jones. LeBron made it a necessity for Jones to be part of the Cavalier team that would bring a title to Northeast Ohio. Last season marked the sixth straight NBA Finals appearance for LeBron and it also marked the sixth straight appearance for Jones as well.
15. Hate: Dan Gilbert
Dan Gilbert, the famous Cleveland Cavalier owner, is an incredible inclusion on this list, namely because he found a way to be on both sides of the fence. In 2010, when LeBron decided to infamously take his talents to South Beach, Gilbert wrote one of the most scathing nasty letters about a player that I have ever seen. In the letter, he called LeBron a coward and a traitor, in addition to promising Cleveland a championship long before James would ever win one with Miami.
Aside from the letter, Gilbert was also very disagreeable with James about what type of structure was being built in Cleveland. The two disagreed often times on major hirings during James’ first stint in Cleveland. Ultimately, things found a way to work themselves out and Cleveland was able to get that elusive title last season.
14. Love: Dan Gilbert
As we mentioned, Dan Gilbert would be making an appearance on both sides of this polarizing list. Gilbert was a furious, immature cry-baby when LeBron headed south in 2010. However, it was Gilbert who issued somewhat of an apology to LeBron in an attempt to bury the hatchet and let bygones be bygones.
When James rejoined the Cavs in 2014, there was nobody happier than Mr. Gilbert. The reasons for Gilbert to love LeBron today are plentiful. Not only has LeBron put people back in the seats at Quicken Loans Arena, but he has built the Cavaliers right back up to being one of the most valuable franchises in sports. Gilbert saw the value of his team go from $329 million in 2011 up to $515 million today.
13. Hate: Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley has never been one to shy away from headline making statements. When asked if he believes LeBron James could ever be a top five player of all-time, which many argue he already is, Barkley refused to allow James a chance at a top five ranking. Sir Charles is somewhat of a traditionalist in the sense that he has stated he will never change his top five players of all-time. His top five are all great players, but to say it can never change is just silly.
Barkley also doesn’t have LeBron in his top eight players. He has remarked that Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are still much better than LeBron has ever been. This complete denial and unwillingness to allow new comers into the pantheons of history will only leave Charles on the wrong side of history as time passes.
12. Love: Matthew Dellavedova
Coming into the 2013 season, Matthew Dellavedova was a twenty-three year old, underrated player just looking to find a way onto a roster. He busted his tail everyday at practice until he was given a contract and became part of the Cavaliers bench unit. During the next two seasons, Delly’s career would be a wild one.
Delly was part of the bench mob about which LeBron James boasted on a nightly basis, as James was very complimentary of his hustling back-up point guard. In the Finals of 2015, Delly was forced into action when Kyrie Irving went down. Proving to be a pest to Steph Curry, Delly earned himself a lot of respect and attention around the league. After last season, Dellavedova was a free agent and signed with the Milwaukee Bucks for a staggering $38.4 million. Delly himself has said none of that would be possible if not for his teammates in Cleveland, but ultimately, most of that credit goes to LeBron, even Delly knows that.