Inside Kemba Walker’s Quixotic Rivalry with LeBron James

Walker's teams are 0-28 against James when both men have played

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker is in pursuit of something he's never accomplished: a win over a team on which LeBron James plays.
Steve McLaughlin/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / January 20, 2020 2:30 pm

Some sports rivalries are fueled by geography — the close proximity of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox has led to decades of enmity between the two teams. Others emerge from the potential of watching two superstars face off against one another. And then there’s the rivalry between Kemba Walker and LeBron James, which has all of the elements of a classic conflict, but throws in one other detail that puts the whole thing in a different light.

As ESPN reports, Walker has never emerged victorious when a team he’s played on has faced off against one of James’s.

This isn’t a case of a particularly lopsided rivalry, either: Walker is a terrific player in his own right, and his move to Boston was about furthering a successful career. Even so, the statistics are unnerving:

In eight seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets, Walker stepped onto the court against James 24 times in the regular season and four times in the 2014 NBA playoffs, and never left the court with a win.

ESPN notes that Walker’s 0-28 record against James is the second most daunting record of all time. At the top of that list: Sherman Douglas, who played against Michael Jordan 30 times without a win.

Walker seems to be taking the rivalry in stride, telling ESPN that James is “the best player to play in my league, in my generation.” At the same time, he’d clearly like to add to the win column in that very personal record. Perhaps this season, he will.

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