The most talented player of all time has garnered a bit of ill will during his career and diehard Wizards fans are close to topping the list of true LeBron Haters (Bulls fans are without a doubt #1).
I will forever admire LeBron’s play and appreciate what he does off the court, but I will never forget the repeated heartbreak he has bestowed upon Washington Wizards fans.
Most LeBron haters spawned from the belief that Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T or general disapproval of his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. Unlike the others, My Wizards fandom and LeBron related heartbreak are the deep-rooted foundation for the disdain I once held.
LeBron has career averages of 27.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists against the Wizards. These numbers aren’t too far away from his total career averages, but the utter dominance he displays over the team ripped the hearts out of Wizards fans who once hoped their teams would return to the glory the Bullets had in 1978.
The mid-2000’s Wizards “Big 3” that included Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antwan Jamison were often pummeled by LeBron. The tale as old as time rang the same in the coming years, even after the Wizards went through a full rebuild and built the “House of Guards” consisting of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
The following are my personal top 2 LeBron James Wizard killing moments.
#2. The Damon Jones Game
The 2006 Eastern Conference First Round between the Wizards and Cavs was an absolute dogfight. The series was full of high emotion and clutch moments. After five hard-fought games, the series was 3-2 in favor of Cleveland.
At home in game 6, the Wizards fought aggressively and forced overtime. Late in overtime with the Wizards up 113-112, Gilbert Arenas got fouled, went to the free-throw line, and missed his first free-throw.
Before Arenas took his final shot, LeBron strolled to the line and whispered to Arenas as he prepared to take the shot. After the exchange, Arenas, an All-Star and an 80 percent career free-throw shooter, missed the most important free-throw of the game.
The Cavs secured the rebound, pushed the ball, and LeBron made a crisp pass out of a double team to a wide-open Damon Jones in the corner.
It is important to note that Jones had only just checked into the game, played a total of 14 seconds and attempted one shot the entire night.
Jones nailed the shot with 4.3 seconds remaining, and put the Cavs up 114-113.
After the shot, the Wizards got the ball back, but Caron Butler’s game-winning attempt clanged off the rim and in the blink of an eye, the series was over. Cleveland beats Washington 4-2.
Years later, we would eventually learn what LeBron said to Arenas at the line, and the details of what he said are what make this Wizard killing LeBron moment sting a little bit more.
#1. The turnaround bank shot
One of the best shots in LeBron’s career was also one of the most painful to watch as a Wizards fan.
In 2016, the Wizards season ended during game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis. Losing to the Celtics was painful, but this LeBron buzzer-beater was a spirit-shattering moment during the most successful season for a men’s professional basketball team in D.C since the Washington Bullets won the NBA Finals back in 1978. (The Washington Mystics won the WNBA title in 2019).
To get to this iconic moment, we have to look at the lead-up to the shot attempt.
First of all, unlike Arenas from the 2006 matchup, John Wall nailed both of his free throws and gave the Wizards a 117-120 lead entering the 4th quarter. Next, Kevin Love inbounded the ball more than 3/4ths the distance of the court to get the ball to LeBron.
After completing the pass, King James would have to get enough separation from Bradley Beal to attempt the shot. Lastly, it took a stroke of luck to bank in cleanly off the backboard to tie the game.
If you’re a Wizards fan, you believe in Murphy’s Law, and everything that could go wrong went wrong that possession, unfortunately, it was enough to tie the game at the end of regulation.
In overtime, the Cavs dominated the period en route to a 140-135 win.
The shot will forever be in the annals of NBA history as one of the best regular-season moments in LeBron’s career.
That shot, like many others, does more than simply displaying the greatness of LeBron James, It also serves as a reminder to hoop fans in the District.
A reminder that the Wizards still have a long way to go before our home team can consistently compete on a championship level.
There are many examples of LeBron imposing his will on the Washington Wizards, and an endless supply of disappointing Wizards late-game moments, but these two were the worst watching in real-time.
Here are a few more Wizard destroying LeBron moments: