LeBron James, in full LeBron Raymone James, byname King James, (born December 30, 1984, Akron, Ohio, U.S.), American professional basketball player who is widely considered one of the greatest all-around players of all time and who won National Basketball Association (NBA) championships with the Miami Heat (2012 and 2013), the Cleveland Cavaliers (2016), and the Los Angeles Lakers (2020).
Teams LeBron James has played for
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.
Shortly after becoming a free agent, James announced that he would be joining the Miami Heat for the 2010-11 season. 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.
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.
Returning 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.
The following year, James again paced himself and took charge when necessary, driving the Cavs through the Eastern Conference to make an incredible seventh consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals. This time, with former MVP Kevin Durant added to the mix, the Warriors proved too formidable for James and his teammates, claiming the championship in five games.
For all his accomplishments, James achieved another first early in the 2017-18 NBA season: After yelling at a referee during a late November win over the Heat, he was ejected for the first time in 1,082 career games.
The superstar likely felt like yelling often during the course of a frustrating campaign, as an offseason trade that sent Irving to Boston for Isaiah Thomas failed to bear fruit and forced the Cavs to make another major deal before the All-Star break.
After averaging a career-best 9.1 assists in the regular season, James had to dig deep just to get the team out of the first round of the playoffs, delivering a brilliant 45-point effort to sink the Pacers in Game 7. The Cavs were again pushed to the limit two rounds later by the scrappy Celtics, but James scored 81 points over the last two games to pull out the series win and make his eighth straight NBA Finals appearance.
Game 1 of the rematch against Golden State went down to the wire, thanks to James's 51-point outburst, but Cleveland guard J.R. Smith inexplicably dribbled out the clock with the game tied in regulation, before the Warriors pulled away for the win in overtime. That represented the Cavs' best chance to get a leg up on their opponents, as the Warriors won the next three games handily to claim their third title in four years.
Los Angeles Lakers
On July 1, 2018, James announced that he was moving on to the next chapter of his career by signing a 4-year, $153.3 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, a storied franchise that counted Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson among its all-time greats.
The good vibes had worn off by midseason, as the Lakers sputtered through a 17-game stretch without their injured star.
With the team still struggling in late February 2019, James accused his teammates of losing focus over trade rumors, saying, "If you're still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come in and be like, 'Listen, I can't do this.'"
When the Lakers were officially eliminated from playoff contention in March 2019, it snapped James' personal marks of 13 consecutive postseasons and eight straight NBA Finals appearances. Capping a difficult first season in Los Angeles, the Lakers announced that their star would miss the final six games because of his lingering groin injury.
Things got off to a much better start the following season, thanks in large part to the addition of athletic big man Anthony Davis to the roster. Spearheading the Lakers' rise to the top of the standings was James, who became the first player to record a triple-double against all 30 NBA teams in November 2019.
The following month, James added another accolade to his ever-growing list by earning AP Male Athlete of the Decade honors.
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