One of the go-to arguments for people trying to diminish LeBron James‘ accomplishments during his career is that he spent much of it in East, typically the weakest of the two conferences this century.
This has gnawed at LeBron himself a bit.
Bro I swear I heard that for 15 years! 🤷🏾♂️👑 https://t.co/vj8WWTVgDB
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 20, 2020
“There was a lot of conversation about, ‘LeBron can do those things in the East, but if he ever came to the West, what could he do?’” James said this week when discussing the MVP race. “I heard all of that.”
From a statistical standpoint, there’s little merit to the argument. We checked James’ stats vs. teams in the East and West throughout his career and, in fact, his numbers are slightly better when playing against the franchises in the strongest of the two conferences.
Take a look:
The data in the second table is pretty significant considering he faced many mediocre teams in the Eastern playoffs, but only the cream of the crop in the Finals vs. Western Conference clubs – including all-time great squads such as Stephen Curry‘s Warriors and Tim Duncan‘s Spurs.
In terms of winning record, though, there’s a significant difference between his success against East and West. Per our research, he’s won 68.00 percent of regular season games vs. Eastern teams compared to 64.10 percent vs. those in the West.
It gets worse in the playoffs, where it’s 72.60 percent East vs. 36.73 percent West… though it would be hard to fault the guy averaging 28 points, 10 rebounds and eights assists for that.
Alberto de Roa contributed research to this report.