Throughout NBA history, certain players’ names brought fear to the hearts of their opponents: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and a select few others. Knowing that there was hardly a way to stop these legends from scoring, opposing teams had to prepare thoroughly before playing them. Which raises the topic: Is LeBron James feared as well?

Last year, James’ former teammate Mario Chalmers made headlines when he claimed that “nobody fears” the Los Angeles Lakers forward. This raised conversations among fans, and it put Chalmers in hot water among LeBron’s followers.

Now, Chalmers was able to explain his side. Appearing in a podcast with O’Neal, the former NBA guard explained the context behind his comments.

“You know I got killed for (saying) that,” Chalmers said, via NBA TV. “I didn’t think players really feared LeBron like they did Jordan. It’s not that you shouldn’t fear Bron. I just think, at the end of the day, Bron had been through so much that he wanted to be liked. So it was kinda like, Imma do things now where people like me, people respect me. We were always gonna respect what he did, but you actually liked Bron and wanted to be a fan.”

In response to Chalmers’ explanation, another former teammate of James gave his two cents. Channing Frye, who played with LeBron in the Cleveland Cavaliers, explained why he disagrees with Chalmers.

“You know who fears LeBron James? Organizations, coaches, players…I’m pretty sure that there are players who do fear him (James) in game sevens,” Frye elaborated. “LeBron is 40 years old, and nobody wants to be the number one (seed) and play the Lakers in the first round…a guy getting that many points is still being feared. I disagree with that.”

“Organizations fear LeBron James. Like the (Toronto) Raptors,” he added, in reference to James’ dominant playoff runs against the Raptors from 2016 – 2018.

So again, is LeBron James feared as well?

 Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) moves the ball up court against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Arena.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
As for the man in the GOAT conversation himself, James’ resume needs no explanation. From the MVPs to the championship rings to the All-Star appearances and the scoring record, the numbers speak for themselves.

Still, in terms of being “feared,” many basketball fans bring up the difference in demeanors between James, Jordan and Bryant. Mike and Kobe were outright expressive, fiery, and not ones to hold back their adrenaline-filled emotions on the court. This definitely played a big part in the entire fear factor.

James, in connection to Chalmers’ explanation, can be described as much more calm and “likable” from an opponent’s perspective when compared to the other two.

But does this really determine if the man is feared less than those he’s compared to? How true is it that a 40-year-old averaging 25.2 points per game against younger players isn’t feared as much?

That a 6-foot-9 freight train barreling at full speed to the basket while overpowering seven-footers isn’t feared as much? That a man who’s led his team back from a 3-1 finals deficit against a nearly unbeatable Warriors team isn’t feared as much? The looks on the Toronto players’ faces during the Cavs’ 2016-2018 playoff runs might already tell the whole story.

Nevertheless, Chalmers was a former NBA player, so he could be right…but Channing Frye was also one, so his point could stand as well.