Hailing from Akron, Ohio, LeBron James is one of the premier players of the NBA. He currently plays small forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James was born on December 30, 1984 and attended St. Vincent-St. Mary’s high school in Akron. From an early age, Lebron displayed a high level of natural ability for the game, but it is in high school when he began to catch nationwide attention. His appearance in: SLAM Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN The Magazine, helped propel James into the limelight, as did his stellar career in high school. James was a starter since his freshman year for the Fighting Irish, and over four years of playing, James earned 2,657 points, 892 rebounds and 523 assists. LeBron led the Fighting Irish to three state titles, and was named to the All-USA First Team three times, as well as Mr. Basketball of Ohio three straight times. He earned MVP honors at the McDonald’s All-American Game, the EA Sports Roundball Classic, and the Jordan Capital Classic.
LeBron entered the NBA during the 2003-2004 season at age 18. He was the Cleveland Cavaliers first overall pick for the 2003 draft.During his rookie year he earned the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, becoming the youngest player to ever win it. And joined Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game in their rookie season. While the Cavs record improved to 35-47 (up 18 wins from the previous season) they failed to make the playoffs as they began to rebuild their franchise around LeBron.
James was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game, and became the youngest player in history to record a triple-double, and to make the All-NBA Team. But, yet again the Cavs failed to reach the playoffs with a 42-40 record.
During his 2005-06 season, James was elected to yet another All-Star Game, and became the youngest All-Star MVP. LeBron was named NBA Player of the Week 5 times, and became the youngest player in the NBA to average 30 points a game. The Cleveland Cavaliers finally made the playoffs, and went as far as a full seven game series against the Detroit Pistons.
At the end of the 2005-06 season, James signed an extension of three years to his current contract with the Cavaliers, with a player option for a fourth year. The contract expires with James as an unrestricted free agent following the 2010 season.
James was elected to his third consecutive All-Star game, and led the Cavaliers to the NBA championships. However, the Cavs fell to the San Antonio Spurs in the finals by a sweep of four straight loses.
James continued his dominance in the NBA, earning his fourth straight All-Star Game appearance and second All-Star Game MVP. On February 27, 2008, James became the youngest player in the NBA to score 10,000 points, and became the all time high scorer of the Cleveland Cavalier Franchise as he passed Brad Daugherty’s record. The Cavs reached the second round of the playoffs, falling to the Celtics 4 games to 3.
Setting all new career highs, LeBron continued his dominance of the game, being named NBA Player of the Month four times, becoming only the second player in NBA History to do so. Also, LeBron became the fourth player in NBA History to lead his team in all five major statistical categories of: total points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks for the course of a season. The Cavs playoff run ended in a six game series against the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In his last contractual season with the Cavaliers, LeBron led his team to a 61-21 record securing the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round 4 games to 1. In the Conference semi-finals, the Cavaliers lost to the Boston Celtics 4 games to 2, and LeBron was heavily criticized for his poor performances in games 5 and 6.
In a highly publicized free agency period, LeBron chose to team up with fellow 2003 draft-mates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to play for the Miami Heat. LeBron announced his decision on a very controversial one hour television special "The Decision" and he was highly scrutinized for his decision and the way he made it. The Heat started the season with a disappointing record of 9-8 but began to jell as they finished with a 58-24 record, good for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, the Heat made it to the NBA Finals (LeBron's second appearance) but lost to Dallas Mavericks 4 games to 2. Once again, LeBron was criticized for his questionable performances in high pressure situations.
Lebron James finally got the monkey off of his back when lead the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals for a second time and did so with high level play during crucial situations--even playing big while injured on the court. He won the regular season MVP award for his efforts. In the Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Lebron put on another epic performance in crucial game scenarios, and helped lead the Heat to their second championship in franchise history, winning the Finals MVP as well. When asked how he felt about finally winning the championship, Lebron's response was simple but memorable: "It's about damn time." During the 2012 Olympics in London England, Lebron James helped the 2012 Dream Team win a gold medal, completing a very productive year.
Now with his first championship under his belt and many of the critics now giving him his respect as the leagues number one player, the question was asked: Can Lebron James and the Miami Heat repeat as champions and can James seal his legacy as one of the greats by winning back-to-back titles. The question was quickly answered when James statistically produced possibly his best season yet. His field goal percentage skyrocketed from previous seasons, even in areas where he's known not to shot the ball well--from mid-range for example. Not surprisingly, he once again won the regular season MVP award. In the playoffs the trip to the Finals was even more difficult, as teams better understood how to play against the Big Three. However, with the added help of Ray Allen and the bench producing when needed, the Heat made it back against a very solid San Antonio Spurs team. Seeming like the stronger team, many experts predicted the Spurs would win the Finals--and near the end of Game 6, it looked like the critics were right. However, Ray Allen would shot a clutch three pointer right when the game was about to end and the court was slowly being prepared for the Spurs championship crowning. Instead, the game went into overtime and the Heat won. In Game 7, James put on another MVP winning performance scoring 37 points, most of them in clutch situation as the Spurs defense was locking the other Heat players down, forcing him to take mostly mid-range shots. The Heat won back-to-back championships and Lebron James became the third player in NBA history to win back-to-back Regular and Finals MVP awards--tying Bill Russell and Michael Jordan.
James led a Miami Heat team that struggled with injuries to 2nd place in the East behind Indiana Pacers, with a 54-28 win/loss ratio. He finished the regular season with averages of 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game. Miami defeated the Pacers in the Western Conference Finals to reach the Finals for the fourth consecutive time, becoming one of only four teams in NBA history to do so. San Antonio Spurs eventually won the Finals in five games, winning the last three games by a combined 57 points, a NBA record. For the Finals, James averaged 28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2 steals per game.
In the offseason, LeBron exercised his player option to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat. He shocked many by announcing he would return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that had struggled immensely without LeBron. In the four years without the King, the Cavs got the first pick in the draft three times. With these picks they drafted Kyrie Irving (PG, Duke), Anthony Bennett (PF/SF, UNLV), and Andrew Wiggins (SG/SF, Kansas). After James' return, Bennet and Wiggins were traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Power Forward Kevin Love. Love, one of the league's best PF's, was nearing the end of his contract with the T-Wolves, and was clearly eyeing to sign with a new team. In return the Wolves got Wiggins, a young prospect known as "Maple Jordan," and Bennett, a player considered by many to be the worst number one overall pick of all time. Bennett and Wiggins are respectively the first and second Canadian players in NBA history to be selected with the first pick.
The Cavs reached the NBA Finals in 2015, facing the Golden State Warriors, who had won 67 games behind the league MVP Steph Curry. Irving and Love both missed the series due to injury. Despite this, LeBron and Cavs took a 2-1 series lead, eventually losing the series 4-2. The series' MVP was Andre Igoduala, who was lauded for his efforts in guarding LeBron. Nonetheless, James averaged 35 points, 13 boards, and 8 dimes throughout the series.
Following his rookie season in the NBA, LeBron played on the 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team, where the team earned a bronze medal, which was the first time a U.S. Olympic team with NBA players failed to bring home the gold medal. James also played in the 2006 FIBA World Championship, as well as the 2007 Tournament of Americas Olympic qualifiers for the 2008 summer games. The U.S. went unbeaten in 2008, reclaiming the gold medal since the 2000 Olympics. In 2012, the U.S once again won a gold medal with James leading the way.
James currently has endorsement contracts with Nike, Sprite, Glacéau, Bubblicious, Upper Deck, and State Farm. He has nine signature shoe styles with Nike, and four other shoes. The documentary, More Than a Game, follows James and his teammates through their high school careers and James’s rise to fame. James owned a small stake in Beats by Dre, and it has been reported that he made $30 million when Apple bought the company. It is the largest such payout for an athlete in history.
Major career awards and milestones
- 3-time NBA Champion: 2012, 2013, 2016
- 3-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player: 2012, 2013, 2016
- 4-time NBA Most Valuable Player: 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013
- NBA Rookie of the Year: 2004
- NBA All-Rookie First Team: 2004
- NBA Scoring Champion: 2008
- 3-time NBA All-Star Game MVP: 2006, 2008, 2018
- 16-time NBA All-Star: 2005-2020
- 10-time All-NBA:
- First Team: 2006, 2008-2014
- Second Team: 2005, 2007
- 6-time NBA All-Defensive:
- First Team: 2009-2013
- Second Team: 2014
- Bronze medal with Team USA, 2004 Summer Olympic Games
- Bronze medal with Team USA, 2006 FIBA World Championship
- Gold medal with Team USA, 2007 FIBA Americas Championship
- Gold medal with Team USA, 2008 Summer Olympic Games
- Gold medal with Team USA, 2012 Summer Olympic Games