LeBron James is one of the greatest players of all time (considered the absolute GOAT by many). But more than just being a player who wins a lot and dominates every facet of the game, King James is also the greatest story in sport. In this post, we will take a look at his basketball journey and find out why. Let’s get started.
LeBron James: A King Of Kings
We have all heard talks about prophecies and destiny. Mythical characters have fulfilled prophecies and reached their destinies in folklore, but there is a modern-day legend who has done the same in front of our eyes.
LeBron James was dubbed the “Chosen One” even before he had played a second of basketball in the NBA. The incredibly talented teenager out of Akron, Ohio was expected to be the heir apparent and succeed the immortal Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all time. Many young athletes get hyped, but very few live up to it, and only a select few exceed the hype. LeBron James is one of those. Whatever gargantuan expectations were placed on his broad shoulders, Lebron James exceeded them all. LeBron James started dominating the NBA at 18, and as he waits the last few days before turning 40, King James is still right there at the top.
Hercules and his Twelve Labours have made him a legendary figure, and there is no reason why an inexplicable 22-year (and counting) period of sustained dominance wouldn’t make LeBron James a legend of mythical proportions as well.
How did Lebron James start his NBA journey?
LeBron James burst into the world of big-time sports quickly. After the 8th grade, the basketball player became a finalist in the American Championship among school kids. Due to his occasional use of marijuana during high school, LeBron James was almost dropped from his high school team. However, he managed to stop the habit and solidified his place on the squad.
Having heard about the talented basketball player, the legendary Kobe Bryant, nicknamed the Black Mamba, came to see the aspiring star from Los Angeles. Convinced that the rumors were true, Bryant invited LeBron James to train with the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team.
A big fine, but a low price
The young athlete’s abilities were appreciated so highly that the club deliberately violated the rules according to which the player must be 18 years old. The owners of the Cleveland Cavaliers paid a $150,000 fine for this, but it was worth it.
The brightest in the galaxy of young stars
In 2003, the NBA draft turned out to be the most stellar in the new millennium, and one of the greatest of all time. The 2003 draft featured future superstars like Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony. However, no one shined brighter than the 18-year-old out of St. Vincent/St. Mary’s High School, LeBron James. Even though LeBron James hadn’t even played college basketball, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him as the first pick of the 2023 NBA Draft.
Great from the go
In Cleveland, newcomer James immediately became the team’s best player. He famously logged a near triple-double in his debut against the Sacramento Kings. The risks and expenses that the coach and club managers took paid off: LeBron pulled out a lagging team, managing to adapt in less than six months.
Soon, according to the results of the NBA Season, the Cleveland Cavaliers entered the top 10 best teams, which was credited to LeBron James. The Cleveland Cavaliers, despite basically being Lebron James and the others, consistently ended up with some of the best regular season records in the NBA and even made it to the NBA Finals in 2007.
Miami Heat and “The Decision”
In 2010, James decided (via an infamous segment called “The Decision”), along with Toronto Raptors player Chris Bosh, to move to the Miami Heat, where friend and national team colleague Dwyane Wade was already playing. Cleveland fans regarded the step as a betrayal and even went out to protest marches with flash mobs, where they burned jerseys with number 23. LeBron was forced to explain that the act was not a treacherous betrayal, but a step taken to fulfill his desire to win the NBA championship.
Soon, fans were convinced that the decision was right: in the 2011/2012 season, LeBron James won the NBA title for the first time in his career, and the player was included in the US Dream Team.
By the finals of 2012, LeBron was the undisputed best player in the NBA. He also earned the honour of becoming the youngest basketball player in the world to break the 20 thousand points mark. During his four-year tenure in Miami, LeBron James reached the NBA Finals four times and won two NBA Championships.
Return of the King and the fulfillment of a promise
In July 2014, LeBron signed a two-year, $42.1 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, reserving the right to terminate the contract after one season. A year later, the player notified management of his intention to become an unrestricted free agent. A month later, James signed a new agreement with Cleveland worth $46.9 million.
Cleveland fans forgave LeBron for old grievances after great results. In June 2016, against a Golden State Warriors team with the greatest regular season record of all time (73-9), LeBron James did the unthinkable and brought his team back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals in a historic Game 7 in Oracle Arena. It was the first and only NBA title in the Cavaliers’ history.
In early December 2017, James was named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week. The forward helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win 4 games, collecting a double-double in each. According to teammate Channing Frye, LeBron was in excellent shape. Fry claimed that his colleague usually gave 60% of his effort, but that season he used 80% of his opportunities and seemed at ease.
To the City Of Angels and a demand for respect
In 2018, LeBron James signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. Although this time the fans accepted the departure from Cleveland more calmly, emotions from the move of their idol remained mixed. LeBron’s agent explained that, when moving to the Miami Heat, the basketball player was thinking about the championship, returning to his native club, about fulfilling his promise, and in 2018, the now exalted athlete finally decided to think about his desires and acted as he saw fit.
In the 2018/2019 season, James played at his usual high level but suffered a groin injury in a game against the Golden State Warriors. Because of the incident, LeBron had to miss 17 games. Without their star player, the Lakers struggled and were unable to continue their fight in the playoffs.
The 2019-2020 season was affected by COVID-19 and was suspended during the lockdown. To not lose out on the entire season, the NBA created a Bubble in Disney World, Orlando, and finished the season in a protected environment. The Los Angeles Lakers reached the finals in the bubble and beat the Miami Heat in six games to help LeBron James win his fourth NBA Championship. It was also the Lakers’ first championship since 2010. After the Finals triumph, the Los Angeles Lakers club extended the contract with LeBron for 2 years without hesitation.
Unfortunately, the seasons after the 2020 NBA title haven’t been so kind for LeBron James. During the 2020-21 season, the Los Angeles Lakers could only earn the seventh seed after the play-in tournament and lost 2-4 to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
The 2021-22 season saw things go from bad to worse as the Lakers could only muster a terrible 33-49 record for the 11th seed in the West, missing the Play-In tournament as well. LeBron James missed a lot of games because of injuries as well.
The 2022-23 season started dreadfully with the Lakers losing their first five games. However, the team managed to put its season back on track and earned the seventh seed with a 43-39 record. In the Playoffs, the Lakers made it to the Conference Finals after beating the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors. However, the Lakers were demolished in the Western Conference Finals by the eventual champions Denver Nuggets. They were swept out of the Conference Finals.
However, throughout all the struggles, LeBron James’ play had been top-notch. He even passed NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the NBA’s all-time scoring list during the 2022-23 season and is currently the only player in NBA history with over 39,000 points. LeBron James, who is going to turn 40 in a few days, is still doing things that amaze people. He is still breaking records, still writing tales in his twilight years, and still enhancing his legend. Long live the King!