Having now lost a third time in the NBA Finals, it’s a safe bet that LeBron James isn’t going to be sleeping well this week… or even the rest of the summer. He maneuvered his way into having a team around him with multiple all star players, and when he got to the NBA Finals, he was all alone. The opposition wasn’t the San Antonio Spurs, a team which has already beaten LeBron in 11 of 16 games in the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors squad wasn’t filled with veterans who had already won championships, green to the Finals like a combination of the blue and yellow from their jerseys. And yet, the Championship that LeBron brought to Cleveland left the building with Steve Kerr, Steph Curry and the Warriors.

The demons who haunt dreams of children won’t be the antagonists disturbing the slumber of King James this summer. When he wakes up in a cold sweat, grasping for a golden trophy that was carried out of Ohio by a young, sharpshooting squad, there are ten men who are likely to make up his nightmarish opposition.

Squad 1: The MVPs

LeBron James has been the MVP of the NBA Regular Season four times, and he was named the NBA Finals MVP both years he won with the Miami Heat. There was considerable talk that he was going to win the MVP for this year’s Finals even if the Warriors won, but the award didn’t go his way. The first team he’s likely to have nightmares about are all guys who have been given the post-season superlative.


Tim Duncan – Center

3-time NBA Finals MVP

When LeBron hits the floor against the nightmare squad, the guy stepping up to take the opening tip-off has to be Tim Duncan. Although he never won Finals MVP in series against King James, he has won it three times, and in the three Finals series in which he faced LeBron, the impact Duncan had on the series by scoring, rebounding and assisting was significant, often leading the Spurs in any one of those categories on a game-to-game basis. That’s not even mentioning his impact on defense.


Dirk Nowitzki – Power Forward

2011 NBA Finals MVP

The first time James took the Miami Heat to the Finals, the Juggernaut leading the opposition was Dirk Nowitzki, who lead the Dallas Mavericks in scoring in five of the six games it took to eliminate the Heat, outscoring LeBron himself in the majority of them. In Game 6, the one game he didn’t lead Dallas in points, he lead their team in rebounding.

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five

Kawhi Leonard – Small Forward

2014 NBA Finals MVP

Although he didn’t get voted to the All Star squad that year, Kawhi Leonard lit up the NBA Finals, leading the Spurs in scoring in three of their four wins. He was also well on his way to becoming well known for his defensive play and shooting accuracy.


Andre Iguodala – Shooting Guard

2015 NBA Finals MVP

In the back of his mind, even though he has stated that he wouldn’t want to be Finals MVP if his team doesn’t take home the title, it’s likely that James still believes he deserves the award. Against the Warriors LeBron out-scored Iguodala in 5 of the 6 games played. He dominated him in both rebounds and assists throughout the series, and yet, it was Iguodala who was named NBA Finals MVP. Even if James went to the voters and asked them not to vote for him if the Cavs were going to lose the series, it had to eat at LeBron when his name wasn’t announced.


Tony Parker – Point Guard

2007 NBA Finals MVP

Only once in the series did LeBron James  out-score Tony Parker, tying him once as well. In three of the games, LeBron had more assists than Tony Parker. And yet, the Spurs crushed the hopes of LeBron’s fans by sweeping Cleveland in King James’ first appearance in the Finals.

Squad 2

The first squad contains guys who have taken the floor against LeBron. He has seen them first hand, wide awake, find ways to defeat his teams. It’s a nightmare he doesn’t have to imagine, it’s one he can relive. And yet, perhaps a greater nightmare for LeBron would be a different type of team, one which weighs heavily on his decision to go back to Cleveland.

NBA: DEC 25: Heat at Lakers

Chris Bosh – Center

When LeBron took his talents to South Beach, he got Chris Bosh to join D-Wade and him on the Heat, thinking he might be the key piece to winning championships there. To see Bosh win a title without him would certainly be a blow to LeBron’s ego, especially were it to occur with the Miami Heat.


Kevin Love – Power Forward

The Cavaliers gave up a considerable amount to bring Kevin Love to town, and the results were underwhelming. Reports indicate that he and LeBron were at odds for much of the season, and when it came down to the Finals, Love wasn’t even around to help battle the Warriors. Though Love has stated that he sees himself back in Cleveland next season, nothing is stopping him from opting out of his contract and ending up somewhere else in the coming months.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat

Kevin Durant – Small Forward

Whether it’s a battle for NBA’s Regular Season MVP or the scoring title, the one guy who can always be counted on to give LeBron a run for his money, provided he’s healthy, is Kevin Durant. He has a formidable team around him in Oklahoma City, and the terms of his contract could lead him to be on an even better team in coming seasons when he tests the free agent market. The Heat already defeated Durant’s Thunder in the NBA Finals once, but LeBron has to be thinking about how he could very easily see KD deep in the playoffs once again, especially if Durant takes his talents to the Eastern Conference.


Dwyane Wade – Shooting Guard

It was D-Wade who was waiting in Miami with open arms when LeBron and Bosh headed to South Beach, and he was still there when King James went back home to Cleveland. Wade already has an NBA Championship without LeBron, something that King James can’t say about his own accomplishments in return. If Wade assembles another team, be it in Miami or elsewhere, Dwyane getting another title without him would be a huge nightmare for LeBron… especially if Wade’s team is the one which keeps his team from taking the title.


Steph Curry – Point Guard

A case could’ve been made to add NBA Finals MVP to Steph Curry’s accomplishments this year to go on the shelf right next to his regular season MVP. Getting both pieces of hardware, in addition to (literally) taking the championship from Cleveland back to the West Coast, has to vex LeBron… and the fact that Curry is six years younger than LeBron – meaning that the two are likely to meet again in a future playoff series – is also very likely to cause LeBron to lose some sleep.