LeBron James seems to be on his way to his sixth straight NBA Finals appearance, and the seventh of his illustrious career. For any team to get to the NBA Finals they must have a great roster with teammates that all contribute, it is interesting, however, to look at the roster’s that LeBron James has been able to carry to the Finals year after year. James made his first Championship round appearance in the 2006-07 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He carried a team of D-Leaguers to the NBA Finals that year, and the roster was ultimately exposed by the much deeper and more talented San Antonio Spurs.
For all the criticism James received when he decided to take his talents to South Beach to join Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Pat Riley in Miami, the rest of that Heat roster was not chocked full of all-stars. James again carried a team of second tier role players to four straight NBA Finals appearances, winning two of them. Now granted James had more help in Miami, but he still was the leader and go to guy on four straight championship caliber teams. After James and the Heat lost the 2014 NBA Finals to San Antonio, LeBron decided to rejoin his hometown Cavs. The team he went back to was much different than the team he left four years earlier. The new Cavs were much younger and definitely more talented than all the prior Cavalier teams James had played with, yet there were still some less than serviceable players on that roster. But yet again, LeBron carried a decent roster all the way to the NBA Championship round.
It is obvious that LeBron James has taken more horrible players to the promise land than any other superstar in NBA history. This list will illustrate the lack of talent that has seen time in and NBA Finals thanks to King James.
15. Kendrick Perkins – 2015 Finals
Kendrick Perkins, who played with James during their AAU days as teenagers, was put on this Cavs roster to simply fill a roster spot. Although the former NBA Champion was sluggish, Perkins did get his share of minutes. He was usually inserted into games simply to protect the paint and be a bully of sorts. His time with James was short lived as he moved on from Cleveland after the 2015 finals were over.
14. Shawn Marion – 2015 Finals
Shawn Marion was 37 years old when he joined the Cavaliers in the 2014-15 season. He was supposed to help with wing defense, and occasionally put in a few points. Marion was never able to contribute what he was expected and many times he spent the entire game on the bench. Early in the season he got some starts due to injuries, but it was soon clear that Marion was simply just a shell of his old self. He would retire following the 2015 finals.
13. Daniel “Boobie” Gibson – 2007 Finals
Gibson was a young guard on the 2007 Cavs team, and LeBron took fondly to the young player. Gibson was never more than a streaky spot up shooter, however, after he had his run as a teammate of James, his career seemed to fizzle out. His fate is similar to many players who are lucky enough to spend time on a roster with James; good for a season, and gone just as fast. You could say the same thing for a lot of those players on the 2007 Cavs.
12. Juwan Howard – 2012 Finals
Juwan Howard was 39 years old when he went to the NBA Finals with LeBron and the Heat. Howard was more of a player coach than a player at this point in his career, yet he somehow found himself on the court for important moments of many games. James and Howard seemed to have a great relationship, as James respected Howard and his career in the NBA. Not only would LeBron carry Howard to the finals, but also a championship, as the 2012-13 Heat defeated the Spurs in a dramatic seven-game series.
11. Jarvis Varnado – 2013 Finals
Jarvis Varnado joined the Miami Heat during their 2012-13 season. Jarvis was a career back up center with a knack for blocking shots. He only saw action in eight games with the Heat, yet he was still able to see what an NBA Finals looks like up close and personal. Coming out of college, Varnado was regarded as a potential Dikembe Mutombo type of player, but unfortunately for Jarvis the potential never panned out. At least he got a championship out of his career.
10. Toney Douglas – 2014 Finals
Douglas joined the Heat for their 2013-14 season. He was actually a key role player for the team, as he started 17 games for them. With his adequate playing time, Douglas was only able to average four points per game and less than two assists. Still, it was obvious the Heat would be over-matched in the 2014 finals and they were, by San Antonio.
Since leaving Miami Douglas has spent time with the New Orleans Pelicans, and also spent some time playing professionally overseas.
9. Terrel Harris – 2012 Finals
Terrel Harris will forever be able to say that he is an NBA Champion. He was part of the NBA Championship Heat team in 2012 and has the hardware to prove it. What Terrel will likely not mention, is that after he left the Miami Heat he played in a grand total of 13 NBA games. Terrell was a reserve for the great 2012 Heat team, but he did see some minutes in the Finals and that is an experience that nobody can take away from him. In case you are wondering, he is on the far right of the picture.
8. Dexter Pittman – 2012 Finals
Dexter Pittman came out of the University of Texas in 2010, as a highly touted big man with a solid post game. He went to the Heat in the second round of the draft and played in 35 games during his second season. Pittman would get some playing time in the 2012 NBA Finals, making no impact as he averaged zero points and zero rebounds per game.
Pittman has been playing overseas and in the D-League since 2013, with no sign of returning to the NBA.
7. Dwayne Jones – 2007 Finals
Dwayne Jones was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Boston Celtics coming out of college. After one season in Boston, he was let go, and then was signed by the Cavs. In his first season with the Cavs, the team made the finals. Of course, we know how outmatched they were by San Antonio. He ended up staying with the Cavs for two seasons, playing in 56 games during his second year with the team. Since leaving Cleveland, Jones has played in a grand total of 10 NBA games.
6. Sasha Pavlovic – 2007 Finals
Pavlovic was a key player with the 2006-07 Cavalier team, as he started all 20 of the team’s playoff games that year. This entry is a further testament to how valuable the King was to his team. In his 30 plus minutes of play, Pavlovic averaged just 1.6 assists and under 10.0 points per game.
It is a testament to LeBron James’ greatness that he was able to carry a team that relied so heavily on a player like Pavlovic, all the way to the NBA Finals.
5. Scott Pollard – 2007 Finals
Scott Pollard was at the end of his career in 2007 when he teamed up with LeBron James. Pollard had carved himself out a decent career with the Sacramento Kings during the late 90s and early 2000s, but when he got to Cleveland he was not the same player. Pollard played in 24 games with the Cavs with very little production. He was however, a good leader in a locker room full of young inexperienced players. Still, that didn’t help on the court when the finals rolled around.
4. Brendan Haywood – 2015 Finals
When Haywood signed on with the Cavaliers for the 2014-15 season, he was at the end of his run, as evident by his retirement after the 2015 NBA Finals. Haywood had already won an NBA Title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, and he was simply chasing a ring when he chose to team up with LeBron James. Haywood ended up playing in 22 games with the Cavs, 22 more than he should have, and he ultimately came up short of getting another ring.
3. Ira Newble – 2007 Finals
The 2006-07 Cleveland Cavaliers team has five players on this list; the team was a rag tag collection of inept players. Ira Newble is the highest ranking player from that roster simply because he was with the team the longest, and had the most opportunities to become a decent player. Newble was never able to average over eight points per game in his career and his best rebounding season was in 2001 when he averaged 5.3 per game.
2. Eddy Curry – 2012 Finals
Eddy Curry is another player who, thanks to LeBron James, can forever say he is an NBA Champion. Curry was part of the Heat team that beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, but he was not the reason they became NBA Champions. Curry played in only 14 games with the Heat that season, averaging just over 2.0 points per game. Curry is regarded as one of the major busts in the lottery era, as he was selected fourth overall and was never able to become more than a decent role player, but he will always be able to stake claim to an NBA Championship.
1. Greg Oden – 2014 Finals
After being selected number one overall, and ahead of Kevin Durant, in the 2007 NBA draft Greg Oden never became a solid NBA player. He is widely regarded as the biggest bust in NBA history, especially considering he was selected ahead of ex-MVP and multiple time scoring champion, Kevin Durant. Oden does however, have as many NBA Finals appearances as KD. Oden has spent the last two seasons trying to make a name for himself with the Jiangsu Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association.
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