LeBron James has drawn contrasting takes, criticism, and raised multiple debates even before he set foot on an NBA hardwood. The never-ending comparisons to Michael Jordan put a target on his back from day one.
James has done more than enough merits throughout his career to earn the respect, recognition, and praise from his peers and everybody around the league. Even most fans that didn't want him to succeed can't help to recognize his greatness.
Nonetheless, some still think that he doesn't have that killer instinct that defined Kobe Bryant or the aforementioned Jordan, which is why some of his rivals don't feel intimidated by his presence at all.
Stephen A. Smith Says No One Has Ever Feared LeBron James
So, in the wake of James' physical altercation with Isaiah Stewart, Stephen A. Smith said that the word around the league is that no one has ever feared him and that everybody feels like they could take him:
"It had me thinking because, in all the years that I've covered the league, we talk about the Jordan's of the world, the Kobe's of the world, people like that," Smith said on ESPN's First Take. "You saw LeBron when he first came into the league, you saw LeBron when they got to the Finals, they were facing, taking pictures, and being jovial and all of that other stuff."
"LeBron James is too phenomenal and too great not to be incredibly respected, but in my estimation, from the people that I've spoken to covering the league, he’s never been feared," he added.
"A lot of times, when we think about MJ for example, what ultimately comes up short is the level of fear that was instilled in him. You didn't mess with MJ. You didn't come at MJ like that. You didn't do stuff like that. With LeBron, you believe you could take him. You believe he could be had. Throughout the league, those are all the things that I've consistently heard," Stephen A. concluded.
JJ Redick Calls Cap On Smith's Comments
Needless to say, that controversial take wasn't going to go unnoticed. Former NBA player JJ Redick, who was on set with him, just couldn't take him and called him out for saying such a preposterous thing:
“I don’t know whether to believe that you believe what you’re saying. That’s crazy. That’s crazy," Redick said. "When has there been a situation, if you’re talking physical confrontation…Nobody has ever challenged LeBron. (...) To say that his peers don’t fear him — that opposing coaches don’t fear him. You think people want to go into a playoff series against LeBron?”
Stephen A. then tried to imply that Redick should watch the game, to watch he replied that he had actually played against LeBron for 15 years. I mean, you may not be a fan of James, but you don't want to see him in the playoffs or get into a fight with him, that's just common sense.