LeBron James opened his NBA profession on Oct. 29, 2003, scoring 25 factors in 42 minutes in a loss to the Sacramento Kings. On the Kings’ bench sat Jabari Smith, a 6-foot-11 heart in his third yr who wouldn’t take away his warmups that night time.
Nineteen years, two months and 18 days later, James can be reminded of that matchup by one other Smith, Jabari Smith Jr., a rookie with the Houston Rockets who’s Jabari Smith’s son.
“Hey, you played against my dad in your first NBA game ever,” the rookie instructed LeBron.
“Why you do that to me,” a chuckling James stated, to which Smith responded, “You feel old, don’t you?”
“You feel old, don’t you?” 🤣
Jabari Smith Jr. had a enjoyable truth for LeBron 😂#CenterCourt pic.twitter.com/0HCJ5N8nAH
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 17, 2023
Jabari Jr. isn’t the primary son of a former James opponent to make the legend really feel previous. The Smiths are the ninth father-son pair LeBron has confronted in his illustrious profession.
A twist to this train, James is hoping to grow to be a father-son NBA duo as early because the 2024-25 NBA season, when Bronny turns into eligible to play within the league. The elder James has expressed his need to play on the identical group as Bronny, however has softened that stance just lately, saying that he’d accept taking part in on the identical NBA court docket as his son.
Bronny, at present the No. 28 prospect in his class based on each ESPN and 247Sports, is probably not an apparent one-and-done candidate, however the risk exists that we may see two James donning NBA jerseys in the identical sport.
Let’s discover out which household he has had probably the most particular person success in opposition to.
A fast notice: We’re solely accounting for father-sons on this checklist. Other household pairings, similar to uncle-nephews (Horace and Jerami Grant), cousins (Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady) and brothers (the Gasols, Currys and Lopezes) have been spared from this train.
9. The Rices
- First sport in opposition to Glen Rice: Nov. 18, 2003
- First sport in opposition to Glen Rice Jr.: Nov. 3, 2013
A 3-time All-Star within the late ’90s, Glen Rice spent his ultimate season in a reserve position with the Clippers, and it was there that he crossed paths with James, who was in his rookie season. Rice scored three factors in six minutes whereas James led his Cavs to a 103-95 win with 14 factors, eight assists and 7 rebounds.
A decade later, James defeated Glen Jr. and the Wizards by an almost an identical rating: 103-93. The youthful Rice didn’t play that night time, whereas LeBron scored 25 factors, dished 5 assists and hit three 3s.
James’ complete factors in opposition to the Rice household: 29 (two video games)
8. The Smiths
- First sport in opposition to Jabari Smith: Oct. 29, 2003
- First sport in opposition to Jabari Smith Jr.: Jan. 16, 2023
The most up-to-date of LeBron’s familial encounters started with the youthful Smith telling James the story of his dad going through the long run MVP in his debut. Despite Jabari Jr.’s try to make James really feel previous, LeBron responded with arguably one of the best sport of his twentieth season: 48 factors, 9 assists and eight rebounds in a 140-132 Lakers win. The 19-year-old Jabari Jr. scored 14.
In 2003, 18-year-old LeBron began his profession off with a 25-point sport, including 9 assists in a 106-92 Cavaliers loss. The elder Jabari Smith didn’t play.
James’ complete factors in opposition to the Smith household: 123 (4 video games)
7. The Walkers
- First sport in opposition to Samaki Walker: April 9, 2004
- First sport in opposition to Jabari Walker: Nov. 30, 2022
In the ultimate week of his first season, James and the Cavs fell to Samaki Walker’s Heat 106-91. Walker, who was the No. 9 choose of the 1996 draft and received a hoop with the Lakers in 2002, scored two factors in eight minutes off the bench. James poured in a game-high 24 factors to go along with eight assists and 7 rebounds.
In November, Jabari and his Blazers fell to James’ Lakers 128-109. Just like his dad, Jabari scored two factors off the bench, whereas LeBron put up a game-high 31 factors, including eight assists and 7 rebounds. Near an identical household rivalry performances 18 years aside.
James’ complete factors in opposition to the Walker household: 139 (six video games)
6. The Trents
- First sport in opposition to Gary Trent: Nov. 21, 2003
- First sport in opposition to Gary Trent Jr.: Dec. 28, 2019
The elder Trent, who performed 9 seasons and retired in 2004, performed in only one season in opposition to James. Trent’s Timberwolves defeated the Cavaliers 97-83 as he scored two factors off the bench. James led Cleveland with 19 factors within the loss.
Gary Jr., who performs a far totally different type than his bruising father did, first confronted LeBron in his second yr. The Lakers defeated Trent’s Blazers 128-120 as James scored 21 factors and had 16 assists. Trent scored three factors in eight minutes off the bench.
James’ complete factors in opposition to the Trent household: 199 (eight video games)
5. The Griffins
- First sport in opposition to Adrian Griffin: Feb. 25, 2004
- First sport in opposition to AJ Griffin: Dec. 30, 2022
James confronted the elder Griffin six instances in his profession, however within the pair’s first sport, Adrian solely received 40 seconds of court docket time and didn’t report a basket. James, in the meantime, scored 11 on a tricky taking pictures night time (5-of-18 from the sector) as Cleveland fell to Houston 90-84.
Against AJ in 2022, James had a much better sport. In a 130-121 Lakers win over the Hawks, LeBron scored 47 factors on his thirty eighth birthday, including 10 rebounds and 9 assists. AJ, the No. 16 choose of the 2022 draft, began for Atlanta and scored 13.
James’ complete factors in opposition to the Griffin household: 209 (eight video games)
4. The Robinsons
- First sport in opposition to Glenn Robinson: Dec. 19, 2003
- First sport in opposition to Glenn Robinson III: March 3, 2020
Against the two-time All-Star Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson and the 76ers, 18-year-old LeBron had arguably his finest sport to that time, scoring 36 factors and hitting a then-career-high 5 3s. Cleveland beat Philadelphia 88-81 regardless of Robinson’s team-high 18 factors.
His son, who was additionally taking part in for the 76ers, had his profession sport in opposition to James’ Lakers in 2020. Playing 31 minutes off the bench, he poured in a career-high 25 factors on 15 photographs, outscoring James, who put up 22. The eventual-champion Lakers received, nevertheless, 120-107, as LeBron dished 14 assists.
James’ complete factors in opposition to the Robinson household: 250 (9 video games)
3. The Brunsons
- First sport in opposition to Rick Brunson: Dec. 20, 2003
- First sport in opposition to Jalen Brunson: Oct. 31, 2018
In James’ first sport in opposition to his future rivals from Chicago, he scored 32 factors and dished 10 assists to prime Rick’s Bulls 95-87. Brunson, then in his seventh season, scored six factors in 18 minutes off the bench.
His son Jalen, who entered the NBA after a legendary profession at Villanova, first confronted LeBron in 2018, his rookie yr. James’ Lakers received 114-113 behind his game-high 29 factors, whereas Brunson scored 4 factors in 11 minutes off the bench.
James’ complete factors in opposition to the Brunson household: 389 (15 video games)
2. The Paytons
- First sport in opposition to Gary Payton: Jan. 12, 2004
- First sport in opposition to Gary Payton II: Oct. 19, 2021
Of the fathers on this checklist, the Hall of Famer Gary Payton often is the most completed. After an illustrious run with Seattle, Payton confronted younger James in 2004 as a member of the Lakers. With star teammates Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal hobbled, Payton scored a team-high 13 factors to steer the Lakers to an 89-79 win over James’ Cavs. James scored 16 factors on a tricky taking pictures night time, going 6-of-20 and 0-of-3 from 3.
Against Payton’s son, nevertheless, James discovered rather more success. On the opening night time of the 2021 season, LeBron tallied 34 factors whereas snagging 11 rebounds in opposition to the youthful Payton’s Warriors. While Payton II logged solely seven scoreless seconds within the contest, he’d go on to play an integral position within the Warriors’ title run later that season.
Among all fathers or sons James has confronted at the least thrice, he’s scored his highest common in opposition to Payton II (32.3 ppg in three video games) and his second-highest common in opposition to Payton (31.2 ppg in 13 video games).
James’ complete factors in opposition to the Payton household: 502 (16 video games)
1. The Martins
- First sport in opposition to Kenyon Martin: Jan. 2, 2004
- First sport in opposition to Kenyon Martin Jr.: Jan. 10, 2021
James confronted Kenyon Martin within the elder Martin’s lone All-Star season, days after James turned 19. In that 2004 contest, Martin’s Nets defeated the Cavs thanks largely to his 16 factors and 13 rebounds. James posted 14 factors and 9 assists in Cleveland’s 97-82 loss.
Seventeen years later, nevertheless, LeBron flipped these outcomes on Kenyon’s son. James put up 18 factors, seven assists and 7 rebounds within the Lakers’ 120-102 win over the Rockets. Martin Jr. performed three scoreless minutes off the bench. In the pair’s sixth assembly, LeBron put up 48 factors in the identical sport James first performed Jabari Smith Jr.
With the elder Martin energetic in LeBron’s first 12 seasons — and having a number of stints inside the Eastern Conference — the pair racked up 15 video games in opposition to one another, probably the most of any father or son on this checklist.
James’ complete factors in opposition to the Martin household: 570 (21 video games)
(Photo: Adam Pantozzi / NBAE through Getty Images)