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LeBron James (Lee-Braun James) is one of the best and most dominant players that the game of basketball has ever seen. His build of 6’9” and 250 pounds paired with his incredible athleticism makes him a force to be reckoned with. Along with this, James is one of if not the most versatile player of all time. Combining all of this into one player over the span of 17 years and counting has led to some very long nights, games, and even entire series for anyone who stood in his path.
With all of that being said, today we will be looking at times that LeBron James shut down another player. In this video, we will be defining shutting down as completely dominating, so this means that this is not just a video covering LeBron’s best defensive showings.
Stephen Curry (Stef-in Curry)
The first player that LeBron shut down is Stephen Curry. Specifically, we will be looking at the 2016 Finals as after this season, the Warriors signed Kevin Durant (Pronounced as spelled) bumping Curry down to second fiddle and forcing LeBron to focus most of his energy on the Slim Reaper.
In a way, the media and Curry’s teammate Klay Thompson (Pronounced as spelled) motivated LeBron to unleash everything he had on Curry this series and absolutely shut them all down. At this time the Warriors were coming off of a championship against James in the previous season, had just become the best regular-season team of all time finishing the year with a 73-9 record, and Stephen Curry becoming the first unanimous MVP since Shaquille O’Neal (Shuh-queel O-kneel), a feat that LeBron had never pulled off in his career.
The media was pushing the Curry storyline as well and he was toted as the next big thing in the league and some analysts branded him as the player who was going to dethrone LeBron as the best player in the league if he had not already accomplished it. Curry’s teammate Klay Thompson also led to the King in LeBron to come out. In 2015, Thompson ridiculed James’s comments when he named himself the best player in the world, and Thompson went on to say that he was teammates with the greatest in the world, referring to Curry. Also, Thompson had another controversial statement to the media during the 2016 finals. When talking about an altercation that he had with LeBron saying he was shocked that people took it so personally, it was a man’s league, and that LeBron’s feelings must have just got hurt. After this, the series began to turn around for LeBron and the Cavs as zero dark thirty mode was fully activated. The Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit and LeBron dominated Steph almost every time they were matched up on each other. Most notably when Curry drove to the hoop tried to fool James with a pump fake then went up for a layup, but James sent it into the front row with a ferocious block. After the block, James had words for Curry. While Curry did have a solid game 5 and 6 scoring 25 and 30 points respectively, his plus minuses for both games were in the negative meaning that the Cavaliers outscored the Warriors when Curry was on the court. In the biggest game of them all, game 7 of the NBA finals, LeBron and the Cavs forced Curry to have one of his worst games of the series, he only scored 17 points in this game and had a crucial turnover along with a missed three that would have won the Warriors the game.
Andre Iguodala (On-dre Ig-u-dolla)
The next player comes from the same series against the Golden State Warriors. Another player that LeBron completely shut down in this series was Andre Iguodala. Iguodala is one of the few players that has seen moderate success in guarding LeBron James in a playoff or finals scenario. As a result of his efforts in slowing down James in the previous 2015 Finals, he was awarded the Finals MVP award despite being a bench player for a majority of the regular season. Once again, the media hyped Iguodala up as a LeBron stopper, and in their defense, this is not the worst that analysts have done when branding players “LeBron stoppers”. However, for this finals, Iguodala, playing the small forward position made LeBron his primary defender for most of the series. LeBron absolutely locked up Iguodala who admittedly was on the court with the primary focus of slowing James down, not scoring points. However, with him being the third or fourth scoring option, it is expected that he scored more than he did in this series. He only broke double figures in 4 of the 7 games in the series. Along with this, in the three-game skid that the Warriors had to blow the series, Iggy scored 15, 5, and 4 in games 5, 6, and 7 respectively. The most notable play that LeBron had on Iguodala in this series could be the most impressive and career-defining play of LeBron’s storied career. With only a few minutes left in game seven of the FInals, both teams were on a two and a half minute scoring drought. Iguodala got a defensive rebound and outletted the ball the Stephen Curry, making it a 2 on 1 fast break with only J.R. Smith (J-R- Smith) back to attempt to defend it. However, out of nowhere, LeBron had sprinted the entire length of the court in mere seconds to put on display the most important of his patented chase down blocks of his entire career. On the offensive end, James torched Iguodala, Curry, and the rest of the Warriors as well. He averaged 29.7 points, 2.4 offensive rebounds, and 8.9 assists on one of the best “LeBron stoppers” that the league had to offer.
Gilbert Arenas (Prounounced as spelled)
This player that LeBron completely shut down occurred in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Washington Wizards. This team was led by Gilbert Arenas who was one of the iciest players in the league at the time and someone that you did not want to mess with. It is also important to understand that this is the first playoff series that LeBron had ever been a part of. That information makes what LeBron did just all the more insane. With the game and the series on the line, Arenas was at the line taking very clutch time free throws. Before he started his routine, Arenas said that if he missed this free throw they were going to lose the game, the series was over, and he knew exactly who was going to hit the game-winner. Gilbert Arenas had been guarded by Damon Jones for a majority of the series and Arenas had had absolutely no trouble scoring on Jones time and time again. Being the player that Arenas was he let Jones hear about it when he scored on him as well. As a result of this, once Arenas missed the free throw LeBron drove to the basket and passed to a wide-open Jones who nailed the game-winning three in a play that would have passed for the ending of a feel-good basketball movie. What made this a moment that LeBron shut someone down was that with only a few words, he affected the psyche of Arenas enough to make him absolutely choke away a chance of forcing a game seven. On top of this, LeBron called his shot and told Arenas exactly what was going to happen if he missed the shot and the King stuck to the plan and the wide-open Jones pulled through for the Cavs.
Jason Terry (Pronounced as spelled)
This event just like the two players that were a part of the Warriors, there is a clear motive as to why LeBron took a matchup with this player so seriously. This event was a form of a two for one type of revenge. The first facet of this is that Jason Terry was one of the players that guarded LeBron during the Miami Heat’s finals matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. This was one of the worst finals performances that we have ever seen from a player of LeBron’s caliber and is still the biggest blemish on his record to this day. The second facet of the revenge comes from the team that Terry was playing for, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics led by Rajon Rondo (Raw-shon Rondo), Ray Allen (Pronounced as spelled), Paul Pierce (Pronounced as spelled), and Kevin Garnett (Kevin Gar-net) had knocked LeBron out of the playoffs more than once while he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers and as a result, he was forced to team up with Dwyane Wade (D-wayne Wade) and Chris Bosh (Pronounced as spelled) on the Miami Heat. James had made a point of turning his intensity up a notch whenever he played the Celtics and this play was one of those moments. At this time of his career, Jason Terry was not a starting-caliber player so he signed to the Celtics and was forced to a bench role. His limited play paired with him playing the guard position, LeBron did not spend much time guarding Terry, however, this did not stop him from putting The Jet on a poster. Despite this being only a regular-season game, LeBron still took full advantage of this moment to shut down Terry on this play. First, Dwyane Wade forced a turnover from Terry on the side of the court that had the Heat’s basket, then Wade threw the ball behind his back to Mario Chalmers (Pronounced as spelled) who passed the ball up to Norris Cole (Nore-iss Cole) who lobbed the ball up to James. While all of this was going on, Terry was positioned just right, in front of the rim. By the time he turned to see where the ball was going, it was too late for him. James was already flying through the air like a fighter jet ready to strike down one of the men that forced him to have one of the most embarrassing performances of his life. The contact from James knocked him on the floor and he had to be helped up by teammates. LeBron followed up the dunk by staring into the soul of Jason Terry which earned him a technical foul. LeBron went on to dominate the rest of the game, however, the Heat barely held on to win the game. The final score was 105-103 in favor of Miami. LeBron killed this game however and finished the game with 37 points, 7 rebounds, and 12 assists. On the defensive end, LeBron shut down his comparison while carrying the Heat’s offense. He guarded NBA veteran at the time and surefire hall of famer Paul Pierce. In this matchup, Pierce scored only 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists while playing a substantial 39 minutes and 17 seconds. While Jason Terry only scored 9 points, 4 assists, and 2 rebounds in 24:21 of play.
The Toronto Raptors Organization
The next moment that LeBron shut down someone bends the rules a little bit, however, it more than fits the theme. For his entire time during his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron absolutely shut down the entire Toronto Raptors. The Raptors had a very good core during this time built around Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozen and year after year the Raptors would have a very promising regular season and rumblings began to arise that this would be the year that they finally would knock LeBron and the Cavs out of the playoffs. However, time and time again LeBron would knock the Raptors out with ease and interestingly, the Raptors core of Lowry and DeRozan would become shells of the players that fans would see in the regular season. Even with the awful roster LeBron was left within his final year with Clelvaldn and the raptors being seeded higher than the Cavs it seemed as if this would finally be the year that the Raptors did it, however, LeBron went into takeover mode and shut the Raptors down for a final time. What could have killed Toronto was a left-handed floater that LeBron would hit at the buzzer to with a crucial playoff game for the Cavs. LeBron’s annual dismantling of the Raptors became recognized by fans and media alike to the point that Toronto would be renamed to LeBronto whenever he was in town because of the stranglehold he had on the Raptors whether they were playing at home or on the road. This led to the Raptors to break apart their core and trade Derozan for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Interestingly, the first year that LeBron left the eastern conference when he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Raptors won the Eastern Conference and even beat the injured Golden State Warriors team to become NBA champions.
LeBron James is one of the most dominant players of all time and if we were to take the time to talk about every time he has shut down a player or entire team we would be here for quite a while. However, from the list, we complied you can see that whether it be in the regular season or the playoffs no stage is big enough to stop LeBron James from taking over and dominating a game or series while shutting down some of the best players the NBA has to offer. Leave a player or team that we missed in the comments and subscribe so you can come back and tune in for the next video we have similar to this one.
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