Whether you're in love with him or not, LeBron James is still one of the best NBA players ever. As of April 2018, he has won three NBA championships (2012, 2013, 2016), three NBA Finals MVP awards (2012, 2013, 2016) and four NBA MVP awards (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013). He has also been named to 14 NBA All-Star Games (2005-18) and was named as an NBA All-Star MVP for three of those games (2006, 2008, 2018).
When it comes to LeBron's current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, he's the Cavs' all-time scoring leader, NBA All-Star Game scoring leader and NBA career playoff scoring leader. The NBA phenomenon has certainly come a long way as he was born to a 16-year-old single mother, Gloria James, who did her best to raise him on her own until he turned nine.
LeBron wrote in an essay for The Shriver Report: "Finally, when I was 9 years old, my mother made a supreme sacrifice. She decided that while she was figuring out how to get on her feet, I needed some stability in my life. I needed to stay in one place and experience the support and security that she had felt growing up in a big family. So she sent me to live with my pee-wee football team coach, “Big Frankie” Walker, and his family. She later said to me, 'It was hard, but I knew it was not about me. It was about you. I had to put you first.'"
Some basketball fans may disagree about LeBron's back-and-forth decisions on leaving the Miami Heat to return to his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, but I disagree. While he may have left Cleveland in a controversial fashion, he was a major factor in helping the Cavs end their 52-year sports drought in Cleveland in 2016.
Here are the 10 worst Cavaliers and five worst Heat players LeBron James carried to the NBA Finals.
15 Cavaliers: Richard Jefferson
Richard Jefferson (small forward) last signed a one-year, $2.3 contract with the Denver Nuggets on October 19, 2017. This signing occurred just days after Jefferson—along with Kay Felder (point guard), two second-round draft picks and cash considerations—to the Atlanta Hawks for the rights of Sergiy Gladyr (shooting guard) and Dimitrios Agravanis (center and power forward).
In 2015-16, Jefferson started just five of 74 games played with an average of 5.5 points, 0.2 blocks, 0.4 steals and 1.7 rebounds per game.
He was a member of the 2016 Cavs roster, but he wasn't a significant contributor of that roster. After that, he contemplated retirement, but he re-signed with the Cavs on July 28, 2016. The Cavs, however, lost to the Golden State Warriors in five games in the 2017 NBA Finals.
That being said, Jefferson is currently in the Mile High City, but only time will tell if he's going to be ousted of the team anytime soon.
14 Cavaliers: Dahntay Jones
Dahntay Jones (small forward and shooting guard) was a crucial player during his NCAA career at Rutgers and Duke, but wasn't much of a star in the NBA...minus the fact that he has won an NBA championship with the Cavs in 2016.
While at Duke, Jones earned All-ACC Honorable Mention honors in his junior year in 2002, where he averaged 11.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists. He finished his senior year with 33 games played along with an average of 17.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
Despite all that, Jones didn't really fare well with the Cavs. He made his debut just days after signing with the team and put up 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks, but his debut turned out to be the only game he'd play that season. He got suspended for striking Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo in the groin on May 22, 2016. Sure, he saw some playing time in Game 6, where he had five points, one rebound and one block, but he wasn't a huge factor in the Cavs' success on the path to the 2016 NBA championship.
13 Heat: Ronny Turiaf
Ronny Turiaf (center) is no longer in the NBA, but let's not forget that he was primed as one of the biggest imports who got the chance to play college basketball at Gonzaga, where he graduated with a degree in sports management, communications and French, and professional basketball following the Lakers' selection of him using the 37th overall pick in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft.
In case you forgot, Turiaf helped lead the French under-18 national team to a national title in 2000. Future NBA stars and French natives Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Mickael Petrus were also on that team.
But Turiaf didn't exactly lead the Heat to a 2012 NBA championship.
In 2011-12, Turiaf started five of 13 games along with an average of 3.5 points, 1.1 blocks, 0.6 steals, 0.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.
He went on to play one-year stints with the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves, but injuries halted his on-the-court performance and this led him to announce his retirement on October 24, 2016.
12 Cavaliers: James Jones
James Jones (small forward and shooting guard) remains in the NBA, but not as a player. He has been serving as the vice president of basketball operations for the Phoenix Suns since July 19, 2017. He previously served as a secretary and treasurer for the NBA.
Jones, however, didn't have a whole lot of smooth-sailing days when he spent a total of six years with his hometown team, Miami, before signing with the Cavs, where he finished his career after three years. His regular season and postseason numbers for both teams were mediocre to say the last. While he wasn't one of the worst players ever—as he accumulated a lot of career-highs and consecutive records—he wasn't exactly deserving of three NBA championships (2012, 2013, 2016) either.
Simply put, Jones had himself a 14-year pro career to remember, but he wasn't much of a player for fans to remember for years to come.
11 Cavaliers: Jordan McRae
Jordan McRae (shooting guard and small forward) is a free agent who last played for Baskonia of the Liga ACB and the Euroleague.
McRae is more of a semi-bust than an actual bust. He was once considered to be a four-star recruit. That's why he was listed as the No. 10 shooting guard and No. 38 player in the nation in 2010. He finished his college career at Tennessee with 74 starts in 114 games in addition to 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 58th overall pick in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft. He then had brief stints with Melbourne United, Delaware 87ers, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Baskonia.
In 2015-16, McRae started in just one of 15 games played and had 4.1 points, 0.1 blocks, 1.0 assists 0.8 rebounds per game.
In the 2016 playoffs, he traveled back-and-forth for the Cavs and their NBA G League affiliate Canton Charge. Not only that, but his leg cramps reportedly prevented him from making two free throws after being fouled on a three-pointer. Yet, he still got to see an NBA championship with the Cavs in 2016.
10 Cavaliers: Matthew Dellavedova
Don't get us wrong, Dellavedova was born to an athletic family. Both his sisters have played college basketball. He played college basketball at the St. Mary's College of California from 2009-13. He also graduated from St. Mary's (CA) with a degree in psychology.
Dellavedova's 40-foot, buzzer-beating, game-winning shot at St. Mary's was often described as the "Dellavedagger." He went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, but managed to join the Cavs, signing a two-year, $1.3 million deal in the process. Since then, he has pretty much unable to stay healthy, but still became a 2016 NBA champion.
The same injury bug has seemed to follow Dellavedova when he was acquired by the Milwaukee Bucks in a sign-and-trade deal with the Cavs on July 7, 2016. He has missed quite a few games due to a strained right hamstring and left knee tendinitis, respectively. He rang in New Years 2018 right with a season-high 10 assists, but who knows when he'll get hurt again?
9 Heat: Terrel Harris
Terrel Harris (guard) currently plays for Maccabi Ashdod of the ISL (Israeli Super League). He went undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft. He played college basketball at Oklahoma State from 2005 to 2009.
Harris' highest moment of his NBA career was when he won an NBA championship with the Miami Heat in 2012.
During the 2011-12 season, he started one of 22 games, averaging 3.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 14.5 minutes per game.
He was a healthy scratch on the inactive list 22 times. He was also a DNP-CD on 22 occasions.
Don't get us wrong, Harris led the Heat's reserves in assists and steals four times apiece, but he's most likely not the first player that comes to mind when you hear the words "high-caliber Heat player" muttered in a throwback conversation between two or more people who are reminiscing over the semi old-school championship when the Heat wiped out the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in 2012.
8 Cavaliers: Kendrick Perkins
It seems that the Cavaliers are intent on testing LeBron this spring, because the team brought back Kendrick Perkins late in the 2017-18 regular season. Perkins was with the Cavaliers a few years ago in the 2014-15 season when the Cavs made it to the NBA Finals in LeBron's first year back in Cleveland. By the time the finals came around in 2015, the Cavs were decimated with injuries, having lost Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to injuries early in the series. As a result, Perkins got more minutes, and it was essentially a one-man show featuring LeBron, who somehow managed to extend the series with Golden State to six games. Let's see if Perkins somehow wins a ring with the Cavs come June. That'd certainly be another notch on LeBron's belt.
7 Cavaliers: Sasha Pavlovic
Honestly, we could just list pretty much the entire 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers team on this list, as it was the biggest case of one man carrying an entire team to a finals, perhaps in NBA history. However, in the interest of balance for this list, Sasha Pavlovic will be our poster boy for the 2007 Cavs team. Why? Well, unlike many other no-names on the 2006-07 Cavs, Pavlovic actually played significant minutes for Cleveland throughout their playoff run. He started all 20 of the Cavs' playoff games that year and averaged over 30 minutes per game. What did he muster? A mere 9.2 points per game and shot 38% from the field. No wonder the Cavs were swept easily by the stacked San Antonio Spurs in the finals.
6 Heat: Dexter Pittman
Most, if not all, of you were thinking to yourselves: "Dexter Pittman, who's that?" In case you didn't already know, Pittman is a center who was originally selected 32nd overall in the second round by the Miami Heat at the 2010 NBA Draft. He previously played college basketball at the University of Texas from 2006 to 2010.
Pittman enjoyed three years in the Sunshine State and became an NBA champion in 2012 when the Heat was in their prime years. 2012 was supposedly a year that he'd like to forget though. The officials handed him a flagrant foul after he skid across the lane and subsequently used his forearm to hit Indiana Pacers' Lance Stephenson (shooting guard and small forward) with 19.4 seconds left in that game. As a result, he received and served a three-game suspension.
After that, Pittman traveled around the globe from team to team, which isn't a good sign of a stable pro career.
5 Cavaliers: Timofey Mozgov
Russian big man Timofey Mozgov is pretty much known as one of the first Russians to win an NBA championship...
Mozgov began his basketball career with LenVo St. Petersburg during the 2004-05 season, switched to CSK VVS Samara 2 in 2006 and then joined the Khimki Moscow Region, where he played until the end of the 2009-10 season. He signed a three-year, $9.7 million contract with the New York Knicks in 2010 after going undrafted in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Mozgov spent four years with the Denver Nuggets before being traded to the Cavs, where he won an NBA championship in 2016.
During the 2015-16 NBA season, he had 6.3 points, 0.8 blocks, 0.3 steals, 0.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.
He put up below average numbers to say the least. That's one of the reasons why he had a one-year stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. As for the Brooklyn Nets, let's see how long he'll last with the team who's still trying to find their own identity.
4 Cavaliers: Mo Williams
Unlike the other ballers on this list, Mo Williams is a veteran point guard who was extremely fortunate to become an NBA champion in his 13th season in the league. The Cavs' triumph over the Warriors was a highly-publicized storyline as Cleveland didn't give up even though they trailed Golden State 3-1 in 2016.
"Unbelievable," Williams told Fox Sports Ohio. "Words can't explain."
Of course, Williams has every right to be joyous about the fact that he was able to capture a championship ring for the first time in his lengthy career. After all, he had to deal with chondromalacia, an inflammation of the cartilage under the kneecap, which limited him to 41 regular-season games, where he averaged 8.2 points per game for his lowest record since his rookie season in 2003-04. But we have to unhappily tell you that he was far from a key part of the championship-winning Cavs roster for the 2015-16 season.
3 Heat: Norris Cole
Norris Cole (point guard) has certainly been all over the place. He was a high school and college star in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, as well as his first team's city of Chicago, Illinois, in that order.
Cole was drafted 28th overall by the Chicago Bulls at the 2011 NBA Draft, but was subsequently dealt to the Miami Heat after his rights were initially traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who passed on him. He put on a show for the Heat, becoming their fourth fastest rookie to score at least 20 points in a game in their 2011 home opener. After that, he never really averaged more than 10 points per game, and was ejected for a shoving match at one point, but still got to see the light as a two-time back-to-back NBA champion in 2012 and 2013.
Since then, he has flip-flopped between domestic and international teams, but he has been with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the IPL (Israel Premier League) and the EuroLeague since 2017. Best of luck to him!
2 Cavaliers: Sasha Kaun
Sasha Kaun—the other Russian who became one of the first Russians to win an NBA championship—is no longer in the league, which isn't all that surprising.
Kaun committed to the University of Kansas, despite also receiving more favorable offers from Duke and Michigan. He became the Jayhawks' starting center as a senior, helped the team win the 2008 NCAA championship, earned the Academic All Big 12 Basketball Team in back-to-back years from 2006 to 2008 and graduated from Kansas with a degree in computer science.
After being drafted 56th overall in the second round by the Seattle SuperSonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder) and having his draft rights traded, Kaun signed with CSKA Moscow, where he played for seven years before he signed with the Cavs.
He played in only nine games for the Cavs, scoring a season-high four points, during the regular season.
He was called up to Cleveland just in time when they mounted their epic comeback against the Warriors, and got the chance to become a 2016 NBA champion.
During the 2016 offseason, Kaun was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, but was waived by the team just two days later. He then announced his retirement from basketball.
1 Heat: Mike Miller
Mike Miller (small forward) was selected fifth overall by the Orlando Magic at the 2000 NBA Draft. Yes, fifth overall! He led the Florida Gators to the 2000 NCAA Championship, but in the NBA, he struggled to find a whole lot of success due to illnesses and injuries.
Miller signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Miami Heat in July 2010, but didn't get his first start until January 2011. He then made his first NBA Finals appearance in 2011, but the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. But the next two Heat seasons (2012, 2013) ended in championships, which were sort of handed to him as he only had one big postseason game in 2012's Game 5 with 23 points (including seven 3-pointers), five rebounds and one steal.
After that, Miller had brief stints in Memphis, Cleveland and Denver. He then left basketball and found work as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis.
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