LeBron James has already had one of the greatest runs any professional athlete can ask for and this year, he's added a new chapter to his NBA journey, as a Los Angeles Laker. This is LeBron's 16th NBA season to try to win his fourth overall NBA championship. We all know the story by now. LeBron gets drafted by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and he just cannot seem to get it done. He then heads over to the Miami Heat for the 2010-2011 season and wins two championships in four seasons. He comes back home to Cleveland for the 2014-15 season and brings home a championship and four straight NBA Finals appearances for the Cavs. He signed with the Lakers this offseason and will look to lead a struggling Lakers franchise back to the playoffs and hopefully back to the Finals. But LeBron cannot do it all alone.
LeBron James has always had his fair share of good teammates and bad. Who can ever forget about J.R. Smith's boneheaded play in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals? How about the shot by Ray Allen to keep LeBron's second championship pursuit alive in Game 6 of the 2014 NBA Finals? But the question that some NBA fans might be wondering is who LeBron James respects and who he doesn't respect as a basketball player. Just because he might vouch for an NBA star, doesn't mean he will necessarily like playing with them if/when they become teammates. So, why not do a little bit more of investigation into this perplexing question? Let's look at 10 NBA players that LeBron James respects and 10 that he doesn't.
20 Respects: Paul George
Paul George had one of the most serious injuries in recent NBA history when he broke his leg a few years ago. Who was one of the first people to reach out and wish him well? LeBron James, of course. James has had a ton of respect for George ever since the Heat and the Pacers battled several times in the NBA playoffs when LeBron was on the Heat and George was a Pacer.
George was even linked with the Lakers this past off-season to play alongside LeBron, though that didn't happen. Regardless, Paul George will always have the respect of LeBron James; whether they play together in the future or not.
19 Doesn't: Draymond Green
There is no love lost between LeBron James and Draymond Green. As we all know, Draymond is part of the Warriors core that has won three of the last four NBA championships. The disrespect really began in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals when Draymond fouled LeBron and LeBron proceeded to step over Draymond. From there, the tension on both sides increased.
Draymond ultimately was suspended for the next game, which some say cost the Warriors a repeat and ultimately, a four-peat. He has been known to get in the head of a lot of the NBA players. In this case, it is simply being disrespected by one of the best NBA players we've seen in a generation.
18 Respects: Dwyane Wade
One of the veteran players that LeBron James has endless amounts of respect for is Dwyane Wade. Wade has been through it all with LeBron. He was taken in the 2003 draft, just like when LeBron was drafted. He was a part of LeBron winning his first two NBA championships and getting the monkey off of LeBron's back that he cannot win in the playoffs. Wade was even supportive of LeBron when he chose to go back home to Cleveland in the 2014 offseason. The two of them have a very close bond that cannot be broken easily. When it is all said and done, LeBron and D-Wade have nothing but the utmost respect for one another.
17 Doesn't: Jimmy Butler
This next player that LeBron doesn't respect is not well unanimous right now by the entire NBA community. Jimmy Butler has been the talk of the NBA with his recent actions of getting himself traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Butler has not been shy when talking about free agency and how nobody wants to play with LeBron. LeBron didn't seem to have any problems with Butler before these comments. Despite a strong start with the Philadelphia 76ers, it's still unsure if he'll sign somewhere else in the 2019 offseason. But since Butler basically said he didn't want to play with LeBron, that could easily eliminate the Lakers from the equation.
16 Respects: Paul Pierce
One retired NBA player that is now making a career as a broadcaster that LeBron James has a ton of respect for is Paul Pierce. When Pierce was with the Celtics and LeBron was with the Cavaliers, they battled for seven grueling games in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals. In Game 7, the two battled basket for basket as LeBron ended with 45 and Pierce with 41 in a narrow win for the Celtics.
Pierce has always said that LeBron is one of the toughest opponents he has played with and vice versa. They had a lot of legendary battles, and the respect for what the other person did during their overall NBA career will never be forgotten.
15 Doesn't: Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah was a part of the Chicago Bulls and most recently, the New York Knicks after winning two national championships with the University of Florida. However, just because Noah won in college doesn't mean that LeBron James would respect him when he came to the NBA. The bottom line is that LeBron James and Joakim Noah don't like each other, and they do not have any respect for the other as players. There has been a lot of verbal and physical confrontations during their time in the NBA. LeBron might have secretly been thrilled to not have to deal with Noah's crazy antics anymore.
14 Respects: Dirk Nowitzki
One of the all-time great international players that earned nothing but respect from LeBron James is Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki has been around for two decades now and has been the focal point of the Mavericks since he arrived. He even denied LeBron his first title by beating the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. You would think LeBron would have a deep resentment toward Dirk for denying him his first title. It is actually quite the opposite as LeBron called Dirk, "one of his favorite basketball players of all time", recently. It takes a lot to earn respect from King James himself, but Dirk Nowitzki has done a great job of doing that thus far.
13 Doesn't: Mario Chalmers
Basketball players make mistakes; that is just part of the game. Make too many mistakes, however, and then you will get on the bad side of LeBron James. Mario Chalmers found this out during his time with LeBron and the Miami Heat. Chalmers hit one of the all-time shots in college to send Kansas to overtime against Memphis in the 2008 National championship game. However, his time with LeBron and the Heat showed a lot of getting yelled at by LeBron and company and always getting picked on for mistake after mistake. It was clear that LeBron did not have too much respect for Chalmers and what he did in college.
12 Respects: Donovan Mitchell
The younger generation of NBA players are slowly taking over the game as we know it. One guy that took the league by storm during the 2017-18 season as a rookie was Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell was one of the finalists for Rookie of the Year and helped lead the Jazz to a playoff spot. There seems to be mutual respect between the younger Mitchell and the older LeBron James. James said that Donovan Mitchell "has got a lot of game". That is certainly quite the compliment for only being a first-year player. Mitchell has also backed up LeBron when he's been outspoken on social issues. So the two have a mutual respect as far as most fans can see.
11 Doesn't: Jaylen Brown
The Boston Celtics are an up-and-coming team in the Eastern Conference. They are so promising that a lot of analysts and fans that follow the NBA closely are picking the Celtics to be in the Finals this year. One of the young stars looking to help the Celtics achieve that dream is Jaylen Brown. Despite a rough start to the 2018-19 season, Brown has evolved on offense over the course of his time in the NBA and he certainly is not bowing down to King James. He has said that he has faced tougher people than LeBron, which is interesting to say the least. Everybody wants to beat LeBron James, but apparently not as bad as Jaylen Brown does.
10 Respects: Kevin Durant
Some guys in the NBA just have natural rivalries with one another. For Kevin Durant and LeBron James, the rivalry has been intensified over the past few seasons. A lot of people may not respect Durant for his decision to join the Warriors when he was a free agent. But, he now has two titles, so he doesn't care what critics have to say. The rivalry between both of the two superstars is one of mutual respect. There is not a lot said between the two, but they both know what the other player has to offer. No matter what might be said, LeBron will always have respect for Durant.
9 Doesn't: Kevin Love
A lot of people might disagree with this one, considering the two were vital parts of the Cavaliers title run in 2016. However, when you look back on it, it seemed like LeBron did not have the same respect for Kevin Love when he was in Cleveland that he did when Love was in Minnesota. Kevin Love has come out about his anxiety problems recently and part of that could be from being "beaten down" by LeBron James and the constant pressure that comes with playing with him. Love is now dealing with the daunting task of leading the Cavs without LeBron. Is LeBron happy for Love and his recent extension? Yes. But, does that mean he still respects him? Most likely, no.
8 Respects: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving served as a formidable second option when he was a Cavalier with LeBron. The only problem is that Kyrie Irving is a superstar and should be the number one option on a team. That is why he was very happy when he was traded to the Celtics last off-season. Irving dodged questions left and right when asked about LeBron last season. This season, he has come out and said he has a lot of respect for LeBron and LeBron has said the same for Kyrie. They can usually be seen hugging it out before and after games against each other now. LeBron even recently revealed that the reason he left Cleveland was because of them trading Kyrie to an eastern rival, after promising him they wouldn't.
7 Doesn't: Lance Stephenson
Even though Stephenson is now LeBron's teammate the duo has had a history for a while now. When the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers were at the top of the Eastern Conference, LeBron would have to deal with Lance Stephenson. Stephenson was playing the role as the "pest," annoying LeBron in any way, shape, or form to try to throw the superstar off of his game. We all remember the infamous moment when Lance Stephenson blew into LeBron's ear, right? It's safe to say LeBron didn't respect Lance much after that. Ironically, they're now both Lakers, but we'll see how long that will last.
6 Respects: Damian Lillard
One of the most underrated guards in the NBA has to be Damian Lillard for the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard has become one of the better guards in the league, but doesn't necessarily get the same credit as other top guards because Portland has not done anything in the playoffs.
LeBron James has the utmost respect for the Portland guard and seemingly hinted at wanting Lillard to play with him. When asked if Lillard was under-appreciated, LeBron made it very clear what he thought of him: "give me Damian Lillard". That is quite the compliment and the ultimate sign of respect coming from The King.
5 Doesn't: Isaiah Thomas
One of the biggest stories in the NBA during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons had to be the emergence of "the little guy," Isaiah Thomas. Thomas had quite the journey before getting to Boston and becoming a two-time All-Star. The Celtics floored everyone and traded Isaiah in a package to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. LeBron was not too thrilled about having Isaiah with him. Thomas did not last even half of a season before he was traded again to the Lakers. There were even whispers that LeBron had requested for Isaiah to be shipped out of Cleveland. Even with what he did with the Celtics, IT4 just never meshed well with LeBron.
4 Respects: Victor Oladipo
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers fought in a tough seven-game series in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season. That also saw the emergence of Victor Oladipo leading the Pacers. That was enough to capture the attention of LeBron James. James went right over to Oladipo and paid his respect to the young guard after beating the Pacers in seven games. The respect went a long way with Oladipo, even encouraging the young guard to try to entice LeBron to come play for the Pacers. The two won't meet in the playoffs unless both teams somehow make the Finals. But the respect Oladipo earned last spring remains.
3 Doesn't: J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith and LeBron James seemed to have a good chemistry on the court. But one play, one moment might have changed it all. Obviously, the Warriors were heavily favored over the Cavs in the 2018 NBA Finals. But the Cavs had a chance to steal Game 1 and get ahead in the series when J.R. Smith got an offensive rebound, in a tie game, off a missed free throw. When he dribbled out the clock, went to overtime and then lost, LeBron was not happy, to say the least. The worst part was that Smith claimed he knew what he was doing. The respect for Smith and his overall basketball ability went down in LeBron's eyes after that inexcusable moment.
2 Respects: Kobe Bryant
Two of the greatest NBA players of all time should have respect for each other, and they do. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant played at the same time until the 2015-16 season when Bryant finally hung up his sneakers. The two have a big-time respect for each other, and why shouldn't they? They both have won multiple NBA championships, multiple NBA MVP awards, and the list goes on and on. Everyone who watched Kobe knows just how much he meant to the Lakers and to the game of basketball as well. LeBron James understands that and can't help but have the uttermost respect for one of the all-time greats.
1 Doesn't: Steph Curry
One of the most influential stars in all of the NBA has been Stephen Curry. Curry has been one of the catalysts that has led the Warriors to their three championships in four years. However, just because Curry has won championships and MVP awards doesn't mean that he has to have the respect of LeBron James. James can give credit where credit is due and has acknowledged how good of a player Curry has become.
However, James and other NBA players have been concerned about how Curry doesn't seem to get any criticism, no matter what he does or doesn't do. Curry will continue to dazzle us with his incredible shooting ability and impressive ball-handling. But that doesn't mean that he has total respect from King James himself.