Who Is LeBron James?
LeBron James is an American basketball player with the Los Angeles Lakers. James first garnered national attention as the top high school basketball player in the country. With his unique combination of size, athleticism and court vision, he became a four-time NBA MVP. After leading the Miami Heat to titles in 2012 and 2013, James returned to Cleveland and helped the franchise claim its first championship in 2016.
Early Life and High School Basketball Career
James was born on December 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio. At an early age, James showed a natural talent for basketball. He was recruited by St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to join their basketball team in 1999. Overall, James scored 2,657 points, 892 rebounds and 523 assists during his four years there.
As a freshman, James averaged 18 points per game. He helped the team to a Division III state title by scoring 25 points in the championship game. Word of his advanced basketball skills spread, and James received several honors for his performance.
As a high school sophomore, James was chosen for the USA Today All-USA First Team. He was the first sophomore ever selected for this award. His team also won the Division III state title for the second year in a row.
During the 2003-04 season, James made history when he became the first member of the Cavalier franchise to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He also became the youngest player — at only 20 years old — to receive this honor.
Additionally, James, averaging 20 points per game at this time, became one of only three rookies to accomplish this feat, putting him in the same company as Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson.
James continued to excel professionally in the NBA the following season, upping his average points per game to 27.2. He made NBA history again in 2005 when he became the youngest player to score more than 50 points in one game.
In 2006, James helped his team defeat the Washington Wizards in the first round of playoff action. From there, the Cavaliers took on the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals. James scored an average of 26.6 per game in this postseason matchup, but it wasn’t enough to secure victory for his team. While his team wasn’t at the top of the rankings, James himself continued to receive special recognition for his abilities.
In 2006, James reached a new contract agreement with the Cavaliers. The team proved to be stronger competitors the following season, defeating Detroit to win the Eastern Conference. In the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, however, the Cavaliers lost their championship bid in four consecutive games.
During the 2007-08 season, James continued to help the Cavaliers improve their standing in the Eastern Conference. The team made it to the semifinals, where they were defeated by the Boston Celtics in seven games. In terms of individual performance, James had a stellar year, outperforming such rival players as Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson by scoring an average of 30 points per game, the highest average in the NBA regular season.
Early in the 2008-09 season, sports journalists and fans began talking about James’ future in the sport. He had the option to become a free agent in 2010, and there was much discussion as to where James would end up. Some journalists identified the New York Knicks as a potential suitor for the rising player.
James made several references to his impending free-agent status, but he was sure to downplay the matter. “I am focused on the team that I am on right now and winning a championship … I don’t think about making a change at this point,” James told reporters.
Shortly after becoming a free agent, James announced that he would be joining the Miami Heat for the 2010-11 season. His fans in Cleveland were less than pleased, and many considered his departure a betrayal to his hometown.
Soon after James’ announcement, Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert wrote an open letter declaring James’ decision as “selfish,” “heartless” and a “cowardly betrayal.” Unfazed, James finished second in the league during his first season with the Heat, scoring 26.7 points per game.
The 2011-12 season saw major success for James and the Miami Heat. With his team’s victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals, the superstar forward finally earned his first title. In the clinching Game 5, James scored 26 points, and had 11 rebounds and 13 assists. “I made a difficult decision to leave Cleveland, but I understood what my future was about,” James told FOX Sports following the game. “I knew we had a bright future [in Miami].”
During the 2012-13 season, James made NBA history yet again: On January 16, 2013, at age 28, he became the youngest player to score 20,000 points, succeeding Bryant of the Lakers — who accomplished this feat when he was 29 — and becoming only the 38th player in NBA history to achieve this distinction. James made a jump shot the final seconds of the game, bringing his scoring total 20,001 and leading the Heat to a 92-75 victory over the Warriors.
Success followed the Heat to the end of the 2012-13 season: Following a hard-fought, six-game series against the Indiana Pacers to win the Eastern Conference, Miami outlasted the San Antonio Spurs in seven games to win its second consecutive NBA championship.
At the culmination of the 2013-14 season, Miami returned to the NBA Finals to face off against the Spurs again, this time losing to San Antonio after five games.
Return to Cleveland Cavaliers
In July of 2014, after opting out of his contract with the Heat and considering other teams, James announced that he would be returning to the Cavaliers.
Hampered by back and knee problems, James missed 13 of 82 regular-season games in 2014-15. However, he was as dominant as ever when healthy, averaging 25.3 points and 7.4 assists per game. James led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, becoming the first player in nearly 50 years to reach the championship round in five consecutive seasons. However, injuries to star teammates Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving damaged his hopes of claiming a third title, and the Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
Over the course of 2015-16, the Cavs overcame the distraction of a mid-season coaching change and breezed through the playoffs to earn a rematch with the Warriors, marking the sixth straight NBA Finals appearance for “King James.” In perhaps the crowning achievement of his career, he led his team back from a 3-1 deficit, scoring 41 points in both Games 5 and 6, before recording a triple-double in Game 7 to give the Cavs their first championship in franchise history.