Written by Journalism Staff Reporter Cole Smith
When the Cleveland Cavaliers landed the #1 pick in the 2003 NBA draft, there was no doubt who they would select to bring their team to the promised land. Standing six foot and eight inches, weighing 240 pounds, and jumping 45 inches in the air, 18-year-old LeBron James was expected to be the next greatest player in line. Even with all the hype and expectations, no one could have guessed all that this kid from Akron, Ohio, would accomplish. After winning rookie of the year and becoming an all-star in his second season onward, James won the 2008 scoring title and then went on to win back-to-back MVP awards in 2009 and 2010. Putting his entire franchise on his back, LeBron carried the Cavs to the finals in 2007, but came up short to the dynasty known as the San Antonio Spurs.
In the summer of 2010, James decided to leave Cleveland and sign a contract with the Miami Heat to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, a decision that he would be criticized for during the rest of his career. While in Miami, the King won two championships, being named Finals MVP for both titles, continued to be an all-star, and once again won back-to-back MVPs in 2012 and 2013.
Once his contract was up with the Heat, LBJ decided to go back to Cleveland to team up with the Cavs’ new, young point guard, Kyrie Irving, and newly acquired forward, Kevin Love. Together, these three All-Stars would lead the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2015 (James’ fifth straight Finals appearance) but fall to the Golden State Warriors in six games after Irving’s knee injury and Love’s shoulder injury ruled them both out for the remainder of the playoffs. The next year, Cleveland would find themselves in the same spot as last year, except now down 3-1 to the Warriors in the finals. With a 73-win regular season, the Warriors were heavy favorites to win the series, not to mention that no one had ever won the Finals after trailing three games to one. Two games later, the series was tied, forcing a game seven in Oakland. Amidst an absolute dog fight between two superpowers, LeBron had one of the best performances ever seen in a finals game, posting a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. On top of this other-worldly masterpiece, James had the most famous block of all time, one to save the Cavs from going down two points late in the fourth quarter. With 53 seconds left in the game, Kyrie Irving hit a step-back jumper from behind the arc to put the Cavs up three points. This shot and one James free throw would seal the 3-1 comeback for the Cavaliers to be the 2016 NBA Champions.
Upon losing to the Warriors in the finals twice more, this time equipped with superstar, Kevin Durant, and once without Irving after requesting a trade out of Cleveland, LeBron James decided to shake things up again. While playing for his hometown team the second time, he had been named an all-star each year and won a Finals MVP, but in the summer of 2018, LeBron James made his way over to the western conference and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. His first season in LA was a bit disappointing, attempting to lead a young and out of control Lakers squad, and injuring himself for most of the season. After missing the playoffs in James’ first year on the west coast, the Lakers’ front office landed Anthony Davis in a trade to create the NBA’s best duo. The two would go on to have a great season but were interrupted by the Coronavirus Pandemic, putting the world in limbo. After a break, the NBA resumed in Orlando, with teams being inducted into the “bubble”. The bubble presented a few games for teams to finish up what remained in the regular season and got on with the playoffs, where the Lakers would go on to beat the Miami Heat in six games. This gave James’ his fourth finals MVP award and ring, further solidifying him as one of the greatest to ever play. During his stint in Los Angeles, LeBron continued to be named an all-star while also breaking records.
James holds the record for most All-NBA first team selections, most 20-point games in NBA history, most all-time playoff points, most all-time playoff wins, most all-time playoff games, most consecutive double-digit scoring games, and most recently became the all-time scoring leader, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's seemingly unbreakable record. He also is the only player in NBA history to be in the top five all-time in points, top ten all-time in assists, and top ten all-time in steals, and is the only player in NBA history to record at least 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, and 10,000 assists. LeBron James is recognized as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but some still dub Michael Jordan the “GOAT”. The real title is always going to be up for debate, but James’ career has been undeniably jaw-dropping and we are all witnessing greatness when we watch The King still dominate at 38 years old.