LeBron James, otherwise known as The King, is one of the best players in the NBA right now. In fact, the comparisons to the GOAT, Michael Jordan, continue to plague fans everywhere with never-ending debates between both NBA icons. Drafted in 2003 and now close to finishing his 15th season, the Cavaliers MVP has had his share of NBA talent surrounding him.
He ranks as the only player in an NBA team to be a part of a 6-7 man roster shakeup. The first one in 2008 and this past year being the latest trade deadline stir up. The Cavaliers have always been tasked with providing the best possible roster to assist LeBron in his mission for an NBA ring.
LeBron James finally fulfilled his promise by bringing a championship back to Cleveland, the first one in over 50 years. The road, however, in doing so didn’t happen without a complete overhaul of teammates that either meshed great with The King or simply could not find the right chemistry to succeed together.
Here is the list of 8 teammates that got along with LeBron and 8 others that simply didn’t.
16 Got Along With: Dwyane Wade
This is perhaps the best teammate LeBron ever had for multiple reasons. They even had nicknames for each other. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Not counting his latest stint with Cleveland, (which never served as a feud for either or) Wade loved playing next to his NBA best friend LeBron and still praises him to this day. Wade has even gone on record stating LeBron is the best player of this generation. Today’s G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time). He won 2 rings with LeBron during their 4 year run in Miami and grew together on and off the court.
Both were recruited in the same draft class in the top 5, but it wasn’t until 2010 when they decided to finally join forces. Dwayne Wade recruited LeBron to join the Miami Heat along with Chris Bosh that year. LeBron publicly made “The Decision” to join them and from there formed a lasting friendship to this day. They are both future Halls of Famers, along with Chris Bosh, and shared amazing memories and championship runs in Miami. No bitter end from either when Dwyane Wade was traded from Cleveland back to Miami this past year. They still remain close friends.
15 Didn’t: Derrick Rose
The former 2011 NBA MVP had a great start to his career and was on the verge of greatness. Except he didn’t count on his knees giving out so soon. It derailed his championship opportunities with the Chicago Bulls and had his player value immensely drop as his final years in Chicago came to a close. A crucial blow to a great run and to the organization as well.
He then was traded to New York where he tried to revive his career but after an ACL tear and a torn meniscus, it wasn’t the same anymore. After his contract ended he signed a one year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers and teamed up with LeBron. It seemed like a great fit off the bench but he wasn’t able to find any kind of rhythm or chemistry with LeBron. In fact, LeBron, with the exception of Kyrie Irving, had never played with anyone that shared the same dominant ball-handling attribute that has made LeBron a force even at the point guard position. Rose then went down with an ankle sprain and was forced out for a month or two. Combined with Family issues, he never formed a cohesive unit with LeBron, therefore never became an actual Cavalier.
14 Got Along With: Kevin Love
Kevin Love first shined as a core member of the Minnesota Timberwolves before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the former 2014 #1 NBA Draft pick Andrew Wiggins. Since then, he’s been LeBron’s right-hand man and is currently in the midst of an impressive playoff run. He is the only other All-Star currently on the Cavaliers and is producing high numbers and offensive production at a high caliber. LeBron has always been harshly criticized when the comparisons to Michael Jordan come up for either failing in his numerous NBA Finals attempts or for having numerous star power next to him and still not reaching his goal.
While that argument can be highly debatable, the only constant he’s had since going back from Miami to Cleveland is the help, when he’s healthy, and the offensive power of Kevin Love. He is a stretch four that has been able to hold down the post effectively while surprising opponents from behind the arc. He is the only other player that LeBron knows can rely on in crunch time. Because of that, James knows he has a shot at the NBA Finals this year, because of his trusty sidekick in Kevin Love.
13 Didn’t: Kyrie Irving
This might, of course, seem far-fetched, but there was a huge reason why Kyrie Irving out of nowhere randomly requested a trade this past offseason. The worst part of it was that the former Duke star had hinted that his reasons for not being completely satisfied was never being the main guy or go to guy for his team. He was always going to live in LeBron’s shadows and after a while, it was starting to frustrate him. The reason Irving is marked in this category is that this, while it hasn’t been 100% confirmed, is definitely something that caught the King off guard.
After 3 straight trips to the NBA Finals, with two being losses and one amazing comeback story against the Golden State Warriors, Kyrie finally decided he had enough. Maybe it was the last NBA Finals loss that pulled the trigger for his decision to leave, but it was something that no one saw coming and that led to a disappointing breakup between the best 1-2 combo in the NBA. What once dominated the league as the best guard-forward combo in the NBA was now a recent example of the changing landscape of the NBA. A sad ending to a great story.
12 Got Along With: Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh started his career drafted in the same draft class as both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Drafted 4th overall by the Toronto Raptors, Bosh spent his first 8 years there until signing in free agency with the Miami Heat. After joining forces with both James and Wade, the trio was the reason for LeBron James first two rings and probably the best professional years of his life. Bosh, like Kevin Love, is a stretch four and had the ability to surprise opponents with his 3-point shooting. Something that is not known to big post guys like Bosh. Besides that, Bosh is a versatile player and a very humble person on and off the court. A set by example professional in the eyes of NBA fans everywhere.
After 4 years together, and 2 rings together, LeBron decides to go back home to Cleveland, while Bosh decides to continue his run with the Miami Heat. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long as Bosh was forced into early retirement due to health reasons. He had blood clots and up to this day, no NBA doctor has cleared him for his return. He will always have that memorable rebound in game 6 of the 2014 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs that led to a clutch 3-pointer and the championship ring a game later. Something LeBron nor the NBA will never forget either.
11 Didn’t: Mario Chalmers
Mario Chalmers was the starting point guard during the Miami Heat 4 year run, but things didn’t always go smoothly for the team. There were always moments that showed LeBron James frustrated and annoyed with Chalmers during the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Finals. They were never on the same page and kept on bickering on the direction of the offensive pace. Chalmers, like Rose and Irving, is a dominant ball handler and wouldn't focus his offense going through LeBron. That was the drastic issue that would sometimes break down that offensive flow.
He wasn’t as good as both Derrick Rose or Kyrie Irving, but he sometimes played too egotistical like them and tried to control the point too much. LeBron, a point guard in his own sense, maybe was selfish too, but saw a lot of costly mistakes with Chalmers running point and disagreed with him on defensive matchups and switches. They just didn't see eye to eye on Coach Erik Spoelstra's offense and that created tension and animosity among the team. Some later saw it as a building point for them banding together to win the NBA Finals, but others saw the true fight and discontent between LeBron and Chalmers.
10 Got Along With: Kyle Korver
Kyle Korver has always been known as a fast and efficient offensive sharpshooter in the league. That has always been his forte, but a swift player like Korver can be a dangerous offensive key down the stretch. Something most teams desperately need for their playoff run. Since his early days with the Philadelphia 76ers, Korver established himself as a threat from the perimeter and from behind the arc. No player would ever give him any type of cushion between them because they knew that if they did, Korver would make them pay.
After stints with the Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls, and Atlanta Hawks, Korver finally made his way up to Cleveland to team up with the former MVP LeBron James. LeBron has found in Korver a deep threat that can be crucial in late game situations especially with the opponent double-teaming LeBron. He has to look out for potential shooters ready to let it fly and Korver fits that description perfectly. By joining the Cavaliers, it has been one of, if not, the best decision of his career up until now. He knows what’s at stake now and assisting LeBron in another NBA Finals run has definitely been worth the long NBA trip.
9 Didn’t: Isaiah Thomas
This one stings because, in reality, it’s not Isaiah Thomas' fault these two didn’t have the time to mesh together. It was purely a combination of bad timing and completely different styles of play. After a Cinderella story for the Boston Celtics making the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017, Isaiah Thomas was forced out of the series due to a hip injury early on. But his memorable run before the conference finals had increased his player value and people were cheering once again in Boston. Thomas gave them a new sense of hope and life for a team getting back into playoff contention since the departure of the former big 3 in Boston.
That’s why when that wild trade in the offseason happened, that consisted of Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving package, it caught the NBA world by surprise. On both ends. Thomas took a while to officially make his debut with the Cavaliers missing the first couple of months due to the previous hip injury but once he did, his efforts on the court weren’t fully maximized. In a quick 15 days after his debut, he was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and his short-lived Cavaliers career came to an end.
8 Got Along With: Jeff Green
Jeff Green has always been a locker room kind of guy dating back to his Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder days. A team player that just boasted motivation and confidence. Everyone loved him. He wasn’t always necessarily the best offensive threat on the court, his defense wasn’t bad though, but he played his role and was a great veteran presence to have on and off the court. Those that always support you and back you up no matter the outcome. He resembles the Udonis Haslem type of player. The hustle and hard work even in the worst case scenarios.
His teammates always have nothing but great things to say about the type of player that he is and the kind of motivation he brings to the table. A team player with heart. That’s exactly the role he has now with the Cleveland Cavalier and has become a LeBron supporter no matter what. No One can blame him, he witnesses greatness night in and out. After a turbulent career and so many changes, he has now found the right fit for him. After 5 different teams, he finally found a future home in Cleveland and hopes he can now help chase that Championship ring with LeBron.
7 Didn’t: Shaquille O’ Neal
This may or may not, depends on how you view it, come as a major surprise to everyone, but Shaq and LeBron didn’t always see eye to eye. In fact, they had different views on how the team and organization were going. Shaq came at a time when LeBron needed him the most, but it was also during the final years of LeBron's departure from Cleveland. He was already frustrated with the Cavs organization, the lack of direction they had and owner Dan Gilbert.
Shaq on the other end was trying to mount a last-minute comeback after a declining year with the Phoenix Suns. Since his departure from Miami, his age had started to show and he wasn’t the fast dominant post presence he used to be back in Orlando. He was in the back part of his career already. Shaq played well with LeBron, there’s no denying that, but like I previously mentioned, you could clearly see Shaq was already playing like a retired veteran. Shaq also didn’t like how much control of therefor influence LeBron had over the owners and that slowly led to Shaq's final departure to the team he would one day retire with, the Boston Celtics.
6 Got Along With: Matthew Dellavedova
Matthew Dellavedova, a rise to the top story with Cleveland, went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft and was left without a team on draft night. Left with slim options, he needed to make a move and in order to get recognized he decided to join the summer league with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Shortly after impressing that summer, he signed a 2-year deal with the team. Since he joined the team, he was never a high caliber point guard that the Cavs needed or wanted, but he had a lot of heart and hustle. Those were key elements that LeBron started to love. After all, those are the guys you would love to surround yourself with to have a shot at the postseason.
During the 2015 NBA Finals, both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving had gone down with injuries and were out, so it all fell on LeBron to take on the heavy favorite giants, the Golden State Warriors. Dellavedova surprisingly enough stood his ground and provided much-needed offense never leaving LeBron completely alone out there. While they eventually came up short due to the injury plagued season they had, LeBron truly admired that Dellavedova never gave up and left it all out on the floor. That was something LeBron will always appreciate even now after Delly’s departure to the Milwaukee Bucks.
5 Didn’t: Dion Waiters
In hindsight, right off the bat, this was the horrible pairing of two alpha males playing alongside each other. Sort of like the Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony experiment. It just wasn’t something that could work out. An established high school prodigy and Cavaliers superstar in LeBron James trying to mesh with the Syracuse sixth man of the year standout in Dion Waiters. They quickly saw this forced experiment wasn’t going to work out. Unfortunate too because Waiters has tremendous upside.
Dion Waiters is not a point guard, but a ball is driven shooting guard that likes to control the offensive pace full court. A very similar game plan to that of LeBron. Waiters now, after his experiment and time with the Cavaliers, credits LeBron for his growth within the NBA and his view on leadership and control but knew he wasn’t going to shine or potentially make his mark on the NBA with the Cavaliers. He then made his way to Oklahoma City Thunder, another forced plan with both dominant figures in Westbrook and Durant, before finally settling down with Miami in a role that might be beneficial to both Waiters and Miami. With Dwyane Wade as his new mentor, it might finally be the right spot to call home.
4 Got Along With: James Jones
A future Hall of Famer, James Jones was always the best role player to have on your bench and a dangerous 3-point threat at that as well. A Miami Hurricane alumni, Jones was drafted in the same class as LeBron James. James Jones immediately started his career with the Indiana Pacers before making his way to the Cavaliers. In the process, he had stops with the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers, both places where he never really found his niche, before eventually teaming up for the first time with LeBron James in Miami.
Along with LeBron, Jones went on to win 2 rings during their 4 years run with Miami. Jones became the right play at the right time kind of player and teammates loved him because of that. He never complained or questioned his role, simply did what he was told and was an effective player because of that. After Miami, he was the first one of 3 to follow the King to Cleveland to finish his career there with him. After winning a ring with LeBron in 2016 with Cleveland, Jones decided to retire shortly after in 2017. He is now the vice president of basketball operations with the Phoenix Suns.
3 Didn’t: Antawn Jamison
Antawn Jamison, a 16 year NBA veteran, was added late in LeBron’s final run with the Cavs (the first time) back in 2010 in an attempt to save the season and convince LeBron to stay. In the last minute save, the Cavs offered a trade that involved Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden, and Sebastian Telfair. Antawn Jamison was the last piece of the puzzle in their hail mary attempt. That year proved effective towards the end of the regular season. They made the postseason that year and even earned a first-round victory over the surging Chicago Bulls with Derrick Rose. A surprising feat considering the Bulls were ranked 1st that year.
But that fairy tale sadly didn’t last long as they fell short in the second round to the Boston Celtics, who made the NBA Finals that year but lost to Kobe’s Los Angeles Lakers. The final attempt wasn’t enough to retain LeBron as he jolted to South Beach to join Wade and Bosh later that year. For Jamison, it was just another stop in the road as he signed with the Lakers shortly after LeBron's departure. But that friendship was short lived and just a glimpse of the past.
2 Got Along With: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Before the likes of Shaq, Jamison, Waiters, Wade, Bosh, Kyrie, and even Love came around, there was Zydrunas Ilgauskas. A Cleveland Cavalier veteran and legend that spent over 14 years with the team and was there before LeBron James ever arrived. They grew a special bond as teammates that even Ilgauskas followed him to South Beach when he made the jump. His number 11 is currently retired in the Quickens Arena in Cleveland.
He was in more ways than one, LeBron mentor and go to guy during his early years with Cleveland. He accepted any role the team asked of him or basically wanted of him and was very accommodating in James transition to the NBA. A humble player that truly earned the respect of his teammates and the organization, Ilgauskas was a huge reason LeBron made it to the NBA Finals back in 2007 against the San Antonio Spurs. Even if it wasn’t a successful final that year, he did grow as a player and learned to take defeat in stride, and a big help in handling all that was Ilgauskas. He was LeBron’s mentor up until the day he retired in 2011 and close friend to this day.
1 Didn’t: Delonte West
This was the hardest one. A harsh friendship between both. Even though Delonte played only 2 seasons with the Cavs, he earned some harsh criticism for a rumor that emerged during the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics, a rumor that caused discomfort and frustration between the players and Delonte - especially LeBron. It was what caused major contempt and disgust between both players. It is rumored to be the main reason why LeBron shut it down during that series. It affected him mentally and it was too hard to overcome.
The rumor was that Delonte West had an intimate relationship with LeBron James' mother. It was too much to bear during the NBA Playoffs. Before that, Delonte was a subpar player and never emerged to his full potential. Add this rumor to the mix and the chemistry completely fell apart. Of course, this was all a rumor, but it did drag on throughout the playoffs and while it has never been confirmed by Delonte himself, he never publicly denied it. He did have some weird interviews and sightings post NBA and it all had the elements of a breakdown. That rumor would forever haunt LeBron and tear down whatever friendship he ever had with Delonte.