Players Who Can't Stand LeBron James

LeBron James is one of the most polarizing figures in basketball history. As explained by, examinations of geo-tagged tweets compiled by Sports Insider showed that James ended the 2018-19 basketball season as the NBA's most hated player among fans. And granted, the man has a ton of admirers. But there's no denying that James also has his haters, both off and on the court.

So what inspires all this anger? Well, even as James reigns as one of the best players of his generation, some sports commentators have suggested the all-time great is a "horrendous teammate" and a "coach killer." And if those statements are even half true, then it makes sense that James has made so many adversaries around the league.

Of course, the King's personality isn't the only thing that rubs his colleagues the wrong way. Some of these NBA feuds came about simply because opponents couldn't dethrone squads that included James. Other times, it came down to players looking for their own opportunity to shine. And of course, it's often just about the two biggest egos in the room. Regardless, the NBA is full of players who can't stand LeBron James, and today, we're taking a look at his biggest basketball enemies.

The Stephen Curry-LeBron James feud might not be friendly

Sports hate often differs from true feelings of animosity shared by individuals. For example, fans of the New York Mets "hated" Chipper Jones because of how he tortured New York pitchers during his days with the Atlanta Braves, but they also admired Jones as a tremendous competitor and respected rival.

For years, many assumed James and Golden State Warriors icon Stephen Curry shared a similar relationship. Between the spring of 2015 and the summer of 2018, James and Curry competed in the NBA Finals on four separate occasions. Curry's Warriors came out on top of those encounters three times. While it's safe to say James and Curry shared some trash talk during the Finals games, LeBron congratulated the elite three-point shooter as the Warriors closed the Cavs out in Game 4 of the 2018 Finals.

Perhaps those two resented each other more than the public guessed at the end of 2019. Per NBC Sports, The Ringer's Bill Simmons and ESPN's Brian Windhorst discussed the matter in December of that year, and Simmons claimed the rivalry between the two "wasn't friendly." Windhorst added that Curry sitting above James in jersey sales during the 2010s may have played a role in the two athletes not being able to stand each other outside of the occasional postgame handshake.

It's safe to say that Joakim Noah can't stand LeBron

One thing that center Joakim Noah learned all about during the prime of his career was what it felt like to lose to LeBron James during postseason showdowns. In 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015, James and his teams bounced Noah and the Chicago Bulls from the playoffs before Chicago ever reached the NBA Finals during those postseason journeys. But as much as losing breeds hatred, there's more to this story. 

The two exchanged what we have to assume were unkind words during a game played in late 2009. Then in the spring of 2010, Noah doubled-down on negative comments he previously made about the city of Cleveland, James' adopted hometown during his two runs with the Cavaliers. And after James left Cleveland for South Beach and the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010, Noah referred to the group as "Hollywood as hell." 

James making an emotional return to Northeast Ohio in July 2014 didn't soften Noah's stance on his rival. "I really hope we (the Bulls) can kick his ass as many times as possible," Noah said after James signed with the Cavs, per Bulls insider KC Johnson. And as explained by ABC News, Noah said something to James during a 2015 playoff game that enraged the King. While we don't know what he said, whatever it was prompted James to explain, "I'm okay with competing against Jo. I love the competitive nature, but we should leave it there. The disrespectful words that he said to me were uncalled for."

Draymond Green and LeBron James have trolled each other

All things being equal, Draymond Green was probably the Association's best antagonizer during Golden State's run as the league's dynasty throughout the second half of the 2010s. Green was the type of forward that players hated to face during postseason games, as he was often willing to do almost anything (and kick almost anybody) necessary to win.

In addition to being one of the dirtiest players in NBA history, Green also wasn't shy about calling out the game's biggest player on more than one occasion. As mentioned by the Detroit Free Press, after winning the NBA Finals in 2015, Green mocked the Cavs with a series of meme-inspiring insults, telling his interviewer, "Cavaliers? Nope. We won? Yup. They suck? Yup. We here? Yup. They not? Nope."

Of course, James can give it as good as he can take it. For example, in October 2016, James trolled the Warriors with a Halloween decoration that mocked Golden State for blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavs during the championship series. After the Warriors avenged that loss in 2017, Green took a shot at James and the Cavs via a t-shirt that poked fun at the former name of Cleveland's home arena (Quicken Loans Arena). Green kept the fashion burns coming after the Warriors toppled Cleveland to win the 2018 Finals. Referencing a meme shared by James on his Instagram — an image of a clenched fist, captioned "mood" — Green showed up wearing the exact same meme on his shirt, only this fist was wearing three championship rings. Nice. 

Kevin Durant brought up a 'toxic' environment

As much as neither man may have wanted to admit it in the spring of 2020, LeBron James and Kevin Durant shared many similarities during their 30s. For example, they will go down as two of the greatest scorers in the history of the Association. Plus, both men ditched franchises to chase rings and glory during their primes. LeBron James twice left the Cleveland Cavaliers, first for the Miami Heat in 2010 and later for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. As for Durant, he controversially signed with the Golden State Warriors in July 2016 after he and the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Dubs in the Western Conference Finals.

Despite this, KD wasn't complimentary toward James in the late 2010s. For a piece published in December 2018, Durant told Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher a "toxic" environment hovered over James and his teams due to the attention James received from beat reporters and national media members. Durant added, "I get why anyone wouldn't want to be in that environment." According to NBC Sports, Durant's comments angered James so much that KD felt compelled to apologize to LeBron before that Christmas.

That's all well and good, but it's worth noting Durant didn't join James and the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent in 2019. Instead, Durant became teammates with Kyrie Irving as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

Lance Stephenson once got acquainted with LeBron's ear

Unless you weren't paying attention to the Association at the time or somehow fell down the wrong rabbit hole on the Internet, seeing the names LeBron James and Lance Stephenson mentioned in the same sentence probably causes you to remember when Stephenson blew into James' ear during the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. James had the last laugh both immediately after the blow witnessed around the world and after the series, as he and the Heat earned the right to play in that year's NBA Finals.

That was neither the first nor the last incident involving these two. In the 2012 NBA Playoffs, Stephenson made a "choking" gesture toward James after the King missed a free throw during a game between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat. Six years later, Stephenson took a veiled shot at James during a playoff postgame interview, telling an interviewer, "I fear no man. You on the other team, I don't care. I don't care about you."

However, the sports world often makes interesting and unique bedfellows. After James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in July 2018, Stephenson followed in the King's footsteps. He made 68 appearances and three starts during his only season with Los Angeles. In August 2019, he put pen to paper on a contract with the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Isaiah Thomas reportedly didn't fancy teaming up with King James

In fairness to Isaiah Thomas, the diminutive point guard probably never thought he would play alongside LeBron James when an injury prematurely ended his battle with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals. That summer, however, Thomas — who was still recovering from the physical setback — was dealt to the Cavs by the Boston Celtics in the trade that involved Kyrie Irving leaving Cleveland for Beantown.

Thomas' time as an active member of the Cavs lasted about one month. He debuted for Cleveland on January 2, 2018, and he appeared in a total of 15 games with the organization before he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of Cleveland's roster restructuring ahead of the postseason.

Not long after that transaction was made official by the Association, Fox Sports personality Chris Broussard claimed during a television segment that somebody close to Thomas told him the point guard "has absolutely no love, at all, for LeBron," and also that Thomas felt James talked down to him when the two were teammates in Cleveland. Unsurprisingly, Thomas and James weren't a match made in heaven when LeBron decided to sign with the Lakers in July 2018. Later that same month, Thomas joined the Denver Nuggets.

DeShawn Stevenson had a weird beef with LeBron

DeShawn Stevenson was playing for the Washington Wizards in March 2008 when he thought it wise to poke the bear and verbally disparage LeBron James after Washington defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in a regular season game. "He's overrated," Stevenson said of James after that contest, per Slam Online. "And you can say I said that." As described by The Undefeated, James offered a humorous response to his foe: "With DeShawn Stevenson, it's kind of funny. It's almost like Jay-Z [responding to a negative comment] made by Soulja Boy. It doesn't make sense to respond."

No disrespect meant to Souja Boy, but he never flirted with reaching the status held by Jay-Z, a man widely thought of as one of the greatest rappers in history. Despite that, the comments between Stevenson and James resulted in Soulja Boy making an appearance at a playoff game between Washington and Cleveland, and also Jay-Z creating a diss track about both Stevenson and Souja Boy.

Stevenson last played in the Association during the 2012-13 season, while James was still going strong as one of the league's biggest stars at the start of the 2020s. Maybe that had something to do with Stevenson expressing regret regarding any drama between the two in March 2019, when he admitted, "Basically, we were both making a fool of ourselves."

Did Paul Pierce and LeBron James once fight?

According to Grantland, one of the great on-the-court rivalries belongs to Paul Pierce and LeBron James. The competition started during James' rookie season, and it included multiple playoff battles between the two. Unlike so many players throughout the 2000s, Pierce didn't always miss when he took shots at the King. Most notably, Pierce and the Boston Celtics toppled James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008 en route to winning the championship. Pierce again got the better of James during the 2010 postseason before James left Cleveland for the Miami Heat.

Pierce's retirement from playing didn't quell trash talk between the two. As mentioned by Sports Illustrated, Pierce, who was working for ESPN, said that Kevin Durant and not James was the league's best player during the 2017 NBA Finals. Per USA Today, the two yelled back and forth toward each other throughout Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between Cleveland and Boston. James and the Cavs defeated the C's in Boston that day.

And then the story got even crazier. In January 2019, ESPN's Brian Windhorst tweeted about how Pierce and James nearly came to blows "in the hallway at Ohio State in a preseason game in 2004." This would've been before James' second NBA season. Bill Simmons responded that near altercation was "followed by 12 years of legit bad blood" between the two.

Jimmy Butler allegedly didn't want to play with him in Los Angeles

Sometimes, two egos are so massive that they can't share a locker room or even a basketball during games. That may have been an issue in the fall of 2018 when Jimmy Butler forced a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In September of that year, ESPN (h/t Sporting News) reported that Butler previously desired to head to the Los Angeles Lakers before the start of the 2018-19 season, but that "James' arrival as the franchise's cornerstone made it less appealing for Butler in the prime of his career." Eventually, Minnesota sent Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he remained until joining the Miami Heat in the summer of 2019.

After that, Butler was regarded as a cantankerous individual during his stays with the Chicago Bulls, Timberwolves, and Sixers. After Butler was traded from Minnesota to Philly, SB Nation's Tom Ziller claimed the All-Star "was ruining the Timberwolves' season and maybe their future." On top of that, Twitter roasted Butler after he allegedly created drama behind the seasons only a couple of months into his stint with the Sixers.

As documented by The Score, Butler publicly said in September 2019, "I'm not an a—— like everybody thinks that I am." If that's something you feel you have to declare, some self-reflection may be in order.

Kyrie Irving left his teammate

As described by SB Nation, LeBron James confidently told Kyrie Irving "we'll be back" seconds after the Golden State Warriors eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers and won the 2017 NBA Finals. While speaking with reporters after that defeat, Irving echoed that take and gave zero indication he wouldn't return to the Cavs the subsequent October.

However, Irving experienced a change of heart during the summer months, as he requested a trade from the Cavaliers so he could escape James' shadow and be the key figure for a contender. Things got even more intense as he repeatedly mocked James during the offseason, once at a wedding and again via a social media post when he sang "I'm Coming Home," the tune associated with James' return to Cleveland in July 2014.

Before the Cavs granted Irving's wish and sent him to the Boston Celtics, ESPN reported Irving was bothered that Cleveland allowed one of James' friends to have a job with the franchise and also travel with the team when he was never offered the same from the club. ESPN also confirmed the Cavs didn't hold an exit interview with Irving that June and, thus, never learned about any issues he had until it was too late.

Per SB Nation, Irving eventually apologized to James for taking his former leader for granted, but he never considered joining LeBron in Los Angeles during the summer of 2019.

Charles Barkley absolutely can't stand LeBron James

Charles Barkley is many things. He's a Hall of Famer, part of the 1992 Dream Team, and one of the greatest forwards in history. He's an entertaining television personality and "the Round Mound of Rebound." Sir Charles is also outspoken and ready to voice an opinion on just about anything when a microphone is in front of him.

As recalled by The Undefeated, LeBron James criticized the front office of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2016-17 season for not bolstering the team's roster. This led to Barkley calling James' comments, "Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above." James offered a retort to ESPN and referred to Barkley as a "hater." LeBron also scrutinized Barkley's past as a player, saying, "I'm not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, 'I'm not a role model.' I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying."

After James and the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the 2019 NBA Playoffs, Barkley invited LeBron to the NBA on TNT Inside the NBA set. "He ain't got nothing else to do!" Barkley joked during an on-air segment, according to Sports Illustrated. In January 2020, Barkley remarked that ESPN airing high school basketball games which featured LeBron's son was "the ultimate exploitation," per SI. So yeah, it's safe to say the two aren't on good terms. 

Walt Frazier questioned LeBron's ability as a teammate and leader

Walter "Clyde" Frazier is NBA royalty, a Hall of Famer who's one of the greatest players in the history of the New York Knicks and a two-time champion. Following Frazier's playing days, he embarked upon a broadcasting career in 1981, and he nabbed his role with the MSG Network in 1987. Needless to say, Frazier has forgotten more about basketball throughout the bulk of his life than most mere mortals could ever remember.

However, comments made by Frazier lead one to believe he isn't LeBron James' biggest fan. As mentioned by Sports Illustrated, Frazier said that James wasn't on his Mount Rushmore of all-time great NBA players. The Hall of Famer also remarked, "Wilt Chamberlain is the only superman to ever play the game."

Earlier that year, Frazier went viral with comments he made during a Lakers game when James was shown sitting away from teammates. "When you're the face of the NBA, I think you should be more a part of your team no matter what is going on," Frazier said on the air. "In the public, you have to be a part of the team. In the locker room, you're not, but you have to exude that type of togetherness in public, folks. Right now, we see that he doesn't really care."

Would Frazier think differently had James signed with the Knicks in 2010? We'll never know.