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5 of LeBron James' Greatest Rivals: Fourth Edition

LeBron James is one of the greatest players of all time due to his sustained excellence and leadership.


1. Chauncey Billups

The Boston Celtics had the second-worst record in the league and were hoping to win the Tim Duncan lottery. They struck out and landed Chauncey Billups instead. Knowing what we know now, Chauncey was a worthy 3rd pick. However, he and Celtics coach Rick Pitino did not see eye to eye, and Chauncey was traded to Toronto halfway into his rookie season.

After Toronto, Chauncey had stints in Denver and Minnesota before arriving in Detroit as a free agent. This is where Billups found his stride.

The Pistons became an Eastern Conference powerhouse and reached six straight Eastern Conference Finals, two straight Finals, and one NBA Championship. In their championship season, Chauncey averaged 16.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 5.7 APG.

Billups and the Pistons faced LeBron James thrice in the playoffs and won twice against him. Chauncey was the leader of the Pistons and LeBron was the leader of the Cavs.


2. Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala was the 9th pick of the 2004 NBA Draft. He was initially drafted by Philadelphia to complement their main man Allen Iverson. After two and a half seasons playing with "The Answer," Iguodala became the main man in Philly when Iverson was traded. Iguodala would also end up in Denver in 2012 after a multi-team deal.

In the very next season, Iguodala would end up in Golden State. He was at that time their biggest acquisition in several years as nobody wanted to go to the Warriors. He had developed into one of the game's best 3-and-D specialists. He can hit it from the outside as well as lock down the opposing team's best player. Iguodala is one of the rare players who is willing to sacrifice in order for the team to succeed.

Even though he was a starter-quality player, he was content to be the team's sixth man. His sacrifices paid off, and in 2015, the Golden State Warriors won their first championship in 40 years. He was named the Finals MVP for his excellent defensive work containing LeBron James.

Iguodala would win two more championships with the Warriors. These two championships would also come against LeBron James and his Cavaliers.


3. Derrick Rose

Ever since Michael Jordan retired, the Chicago Bulls have been in a perpetual rebuild. They were never in title contention. While they did draft very good players like Elton Brand, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Ron Artest, they would end up trading them away.

Things would change in 2008 when the Bulls would get the number one pick in Derrick Rose. He would help propel the Bulls into title contention with the likes of Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and Kyle Korver. The peak of Rose's run in Chicago was in the 2010-2011 season when they would have a 62-20 record en route to the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, they lost 1-4 to the Miami Heat, who had the triumvirate of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

Derrick had injury issues after this season, and while he was still a very good player, he would never reach MVP caliber again. He would get to briefly team up with James in the 2017-2018 NBA season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.


4. Carmelo Anthony

When LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were drafted in 2003, it was hyped to be the second coming of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. LeBron was supposed to be Magic Johnson and Carmelo was supposed to be Larry Bird. This was perfect as LeBron was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team in the Eastern Conference, while Carmelo was drafted by the Denver Nuggets, a team in the Western Conference.

Unfortunately, the prime years of LeBron and Carmelo have passed, and a Finals with the two facing each other never happened. Carmelo was a star in Denver and New York. He averaged more than 20 points in his seven and a half seasons on those teams. He reached the Western Conference Finals in 2009.

Anthony had one of his best seasons with the Nuggets in 2006-2007 with 28.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 3.8 APG. He had one of his best seasons with the Knicks in 2012-2013 with 28.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 2.6 APG. Carmelo's Knicks were able to reach the 2013 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, but they were dispatched by the Indiana Pacers in six games.

There were rumors that Carmelo, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron were supposed to team up in Miami, but that never happened due to Carmelo not being willing to take a pay cut.


5. Steph Curry

Steph Curry is perhaps the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history. He has the most three-point field goals in a season with 402, a record established in the 2015-2016 season. He also holds the third, fourth, fifth, and eighth spots on the list. What makes Steph deadly is his limitless range. He can easily score from half-court. He also has a quick release and a high arc, so blocking his shots is a difficult task.

LeBron ruled the East and was in the Finals for four straight years. He faced Golden State each time and only won once. This was against the 73-9 Warriors who had to deal with injuries and suspensions in the Finals. If it were not for this, the Warriors would have had a 4-peat against LeBron.

Steph was good in the 2014-2015 NBA season where he averaged 23.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 7.7 APG. He upped his game in the 2015 NBA Playoffs where he averaged 28.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 6.4 APG on his way to helping the Warriors win their first title in 40 years.

Steph is the polar opposite of LeBron. While LeBron is built like a superhero, Steph is a small guy who is only slightly bigger than the average man. This makes him more relatable.

© 2021 Jan Michael Ong