There’s absolutely no doubt regarding LeBron’s incredible talent and legacy, earning a spot as one of basketball's elite, and being an unquestionable hall of famer and even arguably the best small forward in the history of the game.
His athleticism, his speed, his strength, his passing ability, his defense, his basketball IQ and his clutchness are just a few reasons why The King will be remembered as one of the best athletes in history, and one of the best two-way players to ever set foot on an NBA court.
He could easily beat pretty much anyone that faces him on a nightly basis. Nevertheless, his lack of outside shooting, his poor post play, and his constant whining could prevent him from beating some of the best players in the history of the game, so let’s take a look at the top 10 players that could beat him one-on-one
Rule: We won’t list centers, as they could easily beat LeBron due to their physique, or the King could take advantage of his speed and midrange game, so it wouldn’t be a fair matchup either way.
10. Bob Pettit
During his prime, the Power Forward was one of the most dominant and prominent scorers in the league, becoming the first actual PF to play in the league thanks to his outstanding scoring and rebounding ability.
His ability to stretch the floor even in an era that lacked perimeter shooting made him a dual threat, and the fact that he was a big racist could provide some extra motivation for the King, an active defender of black people’s rights. Pettit would just trash talk LeBron out of his mind and shoot over him over and over until he takes the victory home.
Score: Pettit 21 - 19 LeBron
9. George Gervin
The Iceman would also definitely destroy the King one-on-one, as the shooting guard was one of the first scoring machines the game of basketball saw through 13 years between the ABA and the NBA.
Gervin was quick, strong and versatile, and he could totally beat LeBron with his speed and his ability to get instantly hot, as he even owned the record for most points in a quarter until Klay Thompson scored 37 against the Kings. He could just finger roll his way to victory and the King wouldn’t even know what happened to him.
Score: Gervin 28 - 26 LeBron
8. Rick Barry
The Greyhound is arguably a top 10 historic small forward, mostly thanks to his outstanding scoring ability in a time where centers ruled most of the game and perimeter shooting wasn’t a factor.
Barry would drive the King nuts with his ability to draw contact, and even if Bron never gets called with any fouls, in this streetball game he wouldn’t have that referee sympathy advantage here, winning this entire game pretty much from the charity stripe.
Score: Barry 21 - 17 LeBron
7. Elgin Baylor
One of the best of all-time and a key piece in the Lakers Showtime would also defeat the King in a one-on-one matchup, as the 11-time All-Star was one of the most streaky and terrifying scorers of his time, as his signature games of 71 and 61 points can certify.
Baylor was a very strong and physical player, so he wouldn’t be intimidated by LeBron’s strength and presence in both ends of the floor, and he was a much more versatile scorer, better suited for this kind of game. So, even if Elgin was never able to win an NBA championship, he’d still beat LJ with great ease.
Score: Baylor 21 - 17 LeBron
6. Larry Bird
Bird was so freakily talented that he even decided to play left-handed one time just to see what would happen, and he wound up putting up 47 against the Blazers. LeBron’s a great defender, but Bird’s ability to create space for his shot and great shooting ability from long range would drive LeBron crazy, as Bird’s offensive game had absolutely no liabilities.
This could be a total thriller, with LeBron having the chance to beat Bird but bricking the last shot until Larry ties it up from the line to take it to overtime, where Larry Legend would get extremely hot from downtown.
Score: Bird 33 - 31 LeBron (OT)
5. Tracy McGrady
T-Mac was one of the most dominant players during his prime, although injuries stopped him from becoming the best player in the world and even an NBA champion, but he was practically unguardable.
His offensive game was really complete and his clutch mentality and competitive nature made him a complete beast. T-Mac would take Bron to the rim and finish the game with his signature alley-oop of the glass, dunking the ball on James.
Score: McGrady 21 - 18 LeBron
4. Carmelo Anthony
One of LeBron’s closest buddies could also beat him one-on-one during his prime, although this one could be pretty close, as they both know each other pretty well and James is a much more capable defender. Nevertheless, during his prime Carmelo was completely unstoppable, and his offensive game is way more developed than James’. Besides, his speed and strength during his prime would totally match LeBron’s, so he’d have the upper hand one-on-one.
This game would also be a complete thriller, with Anthony winning it from the left corner with the last gasp three-pointer after Bron’s miss.
Score: Anthony 32 - 30 LeBron (OT)
3. Kevin Durant
The Durantula is arguably the best scorer the league has ever seen, and his versatility as an offensive player is something absurd considering how tall and long the Golden State Warriors forward is.
There’s absolutely nobody that can prevent Durant from scoring, as he can put it on the floor, dunk it, lay it up, throw floaters or just pull up from pretty much everywhere on the court, and LeBron wouldn’t even have a chance against him, as the Durantula would just shoot his way to victory.
Score: Durant 21 - 19 LeBron
2. Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba gave King James a taste of his prime a couple of seasons ago during the All-Star Game, and that was just a glance of what could’ve been if they’ve faced each other in their primes.
“Vino” would demolish Bron with his signature turnaround fadeaway, getting hot towards the end of the matchup after bricking several shots and being behind 17 to 14, scoring 7 in a row to beat the King.
Score: Kobe 21 - LeBron 17
1. Michael Jordan
The neverending debate has to stop now. Even if LeBron’s one of the best players in history, there’s absolutely no way that he could beat MJ during his prime, as not even the best defenders in NBA history could do so.
Jordan would totally destroy James as he did with every single player he ever faced, dunking the ball on him after crossing him and showing the tongue just to provoke him.
Score: Jordan 21 - 13 LeBron