The Cleveland Cavaliers struggled to find a running mate for LeBron James in his first stint with the team, which led to his infamous departure to the Miami Heat in 2010, when he teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to win two championships in four years.
James eventually returned to the Cavaliers in 2014 and led them to their first title in 2016, but maybe he would have never left in the first place if the 2004 NBA Draft went a little differently.
Like, one pick differently.
The Cavaliers had the No. 10 selection that year, and James was hoping former Arizona Wildcats forward Andre Iguodala would fall to them.
“I had loved him at Arizona,” James said of Iguodala, who averaged 12.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists as a sophomore at the UA.
James almost got his wish until the Philadelphia 76ers nabbed Iguodala with, yep, the ninth pick.
Cleveland’s consolation prize? Not a good one. It selected Oregon forward Luke Jackson, who appeared in just 73 games in the NBA.
Iguodala has obviously had a much better pro career, using an envious all-around game to be a fringe All-Star caliber player for over a decade now.
A James-Iguodala duo would have given the Cavaliers unmatched athleticism and skill on the wing. Maybe Cleveland’s first championship would have come a lot sooner.
Now Iguodala, who is battling a leg injury, will try to be a thorn in James’ side as James tries to lead the Cavs past the Warriors in the NBA Finals for the second time in the last three years.
James doesn’t like to think about what could have been.
“But obviously you guys (the media) like those stories so that’s why I gave it to you,” he said.