LeBron's Latest Attempt To Shed His 'Coach Killer' Reputation Isn't Fooling Me


In today’s hyper-partisan world, it seems that everyone wants everything to be a clear case of black and white.

It’s certainly that way in politics, and some of that same partisanship can be found in the sports world.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, but also a petulant diva who has a tendency to throw his coaches under the bus.

In James’ case, both are very much in play.

It would be foolish to insinuate that James is not one of the greatest players of all time. The championships, the accolades and statistics all back up that argument.

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But by that same token, James has proven himself to be a questionable teammate and a verified coach killer. His latest attempt to shed his coach-killing reputation hasn’t changed my opinion on him at all.

The Lakers picked up a much-needed 114-110 road win against the Portland Trailblazers on Saturday and James was quick to heap effusive praise on embattled coach Luke Walton.

“I mean, it’s great to win, period,” James said after the game, according to ESPN. “Listen, coaching staff put us in a position to win, and it’s up to us to go up and execute.”

Walton had reportedly come under fire after Magic Johnson, Lakers president of basketball operations, was none too happy with the Lakers’ sputtering start under Walton’s leadership.

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“Luke can care less about what’s going on outside. We could as well. I’m the last person to ask about scrutiny or anything of that nature. So none of that stuff matters to me,” James said. “The only thing that matters to me is what goes on inside this locker room, both home and away.”

At face value, it certainly seems like James is turning over a new leaf. But one glowing set of comments does not undo a repeated history of undermining his coaches.

During James’ first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, things seemed OK with then-coach Mike Brown.

But according to NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, a former teammate of James’ in Cleveland, the superstar was anything but an easy person to coach.

“LeBron never really (listened to Coach Brown),” O’Neal said in 2011, according to NBC Sports.

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That’s strike one.

After James jumped ship to the Miami Heat prior to the 2010-2011 NBA season, Heat president Pat Riley told ESPN that James had sneakily tried to ask him to oust then-first year coach Erik Spoelstra and take over coaching duties.

“And I remember LeBron looking at me, and he said, ‘Don’t you ever get the itch?’ I said, ‘The itch for what?’ He said, ‘The itch to coach again?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t have the itch.’ He didn’t ask any more questions, and I didn’t offer any more answers. But I know what it meant, and I always go back and wonder about what he was thinking at that time. He walked out scratching his leg like it was itching,” Riley said.

Trust me, Mr. Riley, we all knew “what it meant.”

That’s strike two.

Upon James’ grand return to Cleveland in the 2014-2015 season, it didn’t take long for him to butt heads with then-coach David Blatt. James can deny this all he wants, but at the end of the day, Blatt was unceremoniously fired and replaced with James’ close ally Tyronn Lue.

That’s a clear strike three.

Again, James is one of the greatest athletes of all time in any sport. There’s no denying that. But I’m getting a little tired of people calling him a saint as well.

Even taking all of his social and political takes out of the equation, there is a mountain of evidence suggesting James is both a bad teammate and coach killer.

Legendary Chicago Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson infamously butted heads with Michael Jordan. But Jordan still listened to his coach, absorbed Jackson’s teachings and subsequently won championships in all six of his NBA Finals appearances.

Maybe if James wasn’t so busy trying to figure out how to get his head coach fired, he’d have a better record than 3-6 in the NBA Finals.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
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