Lets face it: Its exhausting just to watch LeBron James put up legendary numbers in a loss. Time and time again, the world sees James score double-digit points, earning himself a triple double, but still walk away with an L in the NBA Finals which is exactly what happened Tuesday night when James’ Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Golden State Warriors, giving the Warriors their first NBA championship in 40 years. Fortunately, for the man known as “King James,” there have been some good times, including four regular-season MVPs, two NBA championships and two finals MVPs.
Its easy to say LeBron did it alone, but basketball is a team sport. Hes had some superstar help, such as Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, but role players and journeymen have had a large effect on his success as well. Its not that these players didn’t have skills. Most actually did, and in the case of LeBron’s current Cleveland Cavalier teammates, still do. But the laymen can name LeBron James; I highly doubt they know who Booby Gibson is.
Here is the definitive ranking of the best no-name teammates that LeBron has played with in his 12 seasons in the NBA.
17. Chris Andersen (2013-2014)
Signing to the Miami Heat in the middle of the 2013 season, Chris Birdman Andersen provided some big-man relief when Joel Anthony wasnt cutting it. You wont be running much offense through Birdman, but he gives solid return of points and rebounds for his minutes. He was also a big fan favorite:
16. Udonis Haslem (2011-2014)
Haslem never reached his potential of being the fourth addition to Miamis Big Three of James, Wade and Bosh. He was loyal to the Heat and provided quality minutes, but was never able to come out of his shell due to injuries.
15. Matthew Dellavedova (2014-present)
14. Norris Cole (2012-2014)
Two young back-up point guards who have shown sparks of greatness to only fizzle. Cole and Dellavedova put up quality back-up point guards and have had a few great performances. Special props for Dellavedova taking over Irvings starting job and putting up a great performance in game three of the NBA Finals. Too bad Steph Curry made sure it didnt last very long:
13. James Jones (2011-Present)
Jones always finds a way to be on LeBrons team, or at least thats what its looked like the past five seasons. Hes reliable part in any rotation, acting as a big guard that acts as a three-point specialist, but doesnt hit too many. But he will. Eventually. I think.
12. Mario Chalmers (2011-2014)
Remember that guy LeBron would always be yelling at on TV?
Yeah, that guy. Chalmers can do some dumb things on the court, but he also can sometimes do this:
That will do, Chalmers, that will do.
11. Iman Shumpert (2015-present)
10. J.R. Smith (2015-present)
A trade for these guys provided what the Cavs were missing this season big-time buckets from the bench, with a little personality. Shumperts moonlights as a rapper, and J.R. Smith is, well, J.R. Smith. Youll get a few three-points, and maybe even a hot streak, but when LeBron needs help the most, theres a few other options.
9. Larry Hughes (2005-2007)
8. Daniel “Booby” Gibson (2006-2010)
Back when LeBron was just a budding superstar in the NBA, Hughes and Gibson gave him some support in trying times. They were able to make it to the 2007 finals, where they were then swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Hughes may have been signed to a ridiculous contract ($70 million), but when he wasn’t injured, he had a decent impact. Gibson showed up from time to time, but never budded became the “Robin” to LeBron’s “Batman” that he was supposed to be.
7. Mo Williams (2008-2010)
6. Delonte West (2007-2010)
5. Anderson Varejao (2004-present)
Now were getting to the more memorable members of LeBrons no-names. Everyone knows the Delonte West rumors, but most people forget how consistent he was when LeBron had no one. Williams came and did his things for a couple of seasons, but never peaked into what he was supposed to be. Varejao still plays for the Cavaliers, but is typically found in a suit on the bench due to injuries. These three were the foundation of the Cavs of old, before LeBron found out he could play with big names. Thank you for all your services.
4. Tristan Thompson (2014-present)
3. Timofey Mozgov (2015-present)
At the beginning of the season, Thompson wasnt in the starting lineup, but has earned his spot with a few incredible rebounding performances. Although the Cavs have been throwing up a lot of bricks in the 2015 NBA Finals, many possessions come back due to Thompsons effort. Thompson is currently in a contract year, and if he can show up before this series is over, he will most likely be getting paid. Mozgov was a great addition halfway through the season, providing size for rebounding, and explosiveness on offense. And check out that face!
2. Zydrunas Ilgauskas (2003-2010)
The longest-tenured teammate of LeBron James with 589 games played together, Ilgauskas put in some quality minutes for King James on a regular basis. Big Z never got to win a championship, but the loyalty and big-man support he provided to LeBron helped him get to where he was today. LeBron even attended his retirement ceremony. Best buds for life.
1. Mike Miller (2010-2013, 2015)
Miller may not have had the largest effect on any of LeBrons success, but whens hes on LeBrons team, things feel right. Miller is a 3-point specialist, the sharpshooter that every defender dreads. But sometimes, he cant stay healthy. Miller has had a few memorable moments, such as this amazing shot wearing just one shoe in the 2013 NBA Finals.
Mike finds a way to win. I dont even want to imagine a world where he isnt given the chance to hit a dagger three.
E.J. Spangler is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.