Skip to main content

Etan Thomas reveals the other side of LeBron James most people don't know about

Etan Thomas with an interesting perspective on what makes LeBron James one of the greatest players ever
Etan Thomas witnessed firsthand what makes LeBron James so great

LeBron James has showcased his greatness on numerous occasions, and Etan Thomas shares what he personally saw from LeBron

In the NBA, players often get criticized once they reach superstar status, which is even more apparent if you are LeBron James.

Over the years, James grew his fanbase and his so-called “haters” in the process. But no matter what his haters say about him, nothing will change how former Washington Wizards big man Etan Thomas’ sees the kid from Arkon.

LeBron knows how to share

Some fans believe that James has been a diva ever since he reached the heights back in his Cleveland Cavaliers days. Thomas, who also played with Michael Jordan in Washington for two seasons, begged to disagree.

According to Thomas, what fans witnessed in the epic 2006 Eastern Conference first-round Game 6 duel between the Cavs and the Washington Wizards was how James disrespected Arenas in the dying seconds of the game.

Looking back at that specific game, James famously whispered, “If you miss these, you know who will end the game” to Arenas, who was shooting a pair of game-winning free throws with 15.1 seconds left in the game clock.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Thomas said that fans did not realize that all signs pointed to James going for the winning shot, but the then-21-year-old didn’t hesitate to trust his teammates and passed the ball.

“I was on court in 2006 for his first career playoff game when a 21-year-old LeBron put up a triple-double with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists,” Thomas vividly recalled in a piece he wrote for The Guardian in 2020. “But he has never been merely a great player. He was also a great teammate.”

“For the entirety of that series, my teammate Gilbert Arenas had been heckling – and dominating – Damon Jones to the point where the Cavaliers guard’s performance dipped and he was benched,” he continued. “LeBron took action. Gilbert had two free-throws to help seal Game 6 and level the best-of-seven series at 3-3. After he missed the first shot, LeBron strolled up to Gilbert and whispered in his ear: ‘If you miss these, you know who will end the game.’ Gilbert did miss and I could only watch as, on the next play, LeBron drove the middle of the lane and kicked it out to Damon, who sank a 23-footer from the baseline to eliminate us from the playoffs. At just 21, LeBron knew he shouldn’t be the one to seal the series. Instead he wanted Damon to be the hero and reclaim some pride after Gilbert had embarrassed him. Even though that ended our season, I respected how LeBron had his teammate’s back.”

The King has a big heart

Two years later, Thomas witnessed the unbelievable character of James once again. This time, it’s outside the basketball court.

“[James] He showed that empathy again when we faced the Cavaliers in the playoffs in 2008,” Thomas added. “I had recently had heart surgery, and LeBron took the time to ask me how my recovery had gone. He joked about not having to come up with a game plan against me after the surgery but he was also sincere as he said I should think about my health first and foremost.”

“So I find it strange when people so confidently think they know the personality and character of an athlete like LeBron from what they see on TV or read on Twitter,” he continued.

People may have different perceptions of James. Fortunately for Thomas, he witnessed firsthand who the real “King James” is both on and off the court.

Shawn Bradley

“Those thoughts creep in” — Shawn Bradley contemplated the darkest thoughts amid paralysis due to a bike accident

Shawn Bradley has been paralyzed after a bike accident but he did not lack the support he needs. Still, the burden it gave his family sometimes prompt him to contemplate the worst.

Western Conference guard Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers

Gilbert Arenas revealed the untold part about Chris Paul's vetoed trade to the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe, CP3, Dwight and two max slots? This scenario would overtake The Decision and Durant to the Warriors as the craziest free agency period in NBA history.

Kevon Looney and the Golden State Warriors are going big to take down the Dallas Mavericks

Kevon Looney and the Golden State Warriors are going big to take down the Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs going small has allowed Looney to eat, and his success in the paint on both ends of the floor is a big reason the series stands at 2-0

Devin Booker suffered devastating losses in the finals and playoffs. Fortunately, he has more than enough reasons to try again

Can Devin Booker redeem himself and his reputation after another playoff meltdown?

Devin Booker suffered devastating losses in the finals and playoffs. Fortunately, he has more than enough reasons to try again.

Amare Stoudemire questions Tyler Herro’s focus: He wants all this entertainment stuff, but where is the focus on basketball?

Amare Stoudemire questions Tyler Herro’s focus: "He wants all this entertainment stuff, but where is the focus on basketball?

Herro won the 6th Man of the Year but he's struggling in these playoffs. Amare Stoudemire questions where his focus is right now.

Marcus Smart’s importance to the Boston Celtics is becoming hard to overlook

Marcus Smart’s importance to the Boston Celtics is becoming hard to overlook

Smart has always been a solid defensive player, but his offensive strides have allowed him to become the player the Celtics need