Date of Birth: Sunday 30 December 1984


 

LeBron James

 

"LeBron" redirects here. For other uses, see Lebron (disambiguation).

LeBron James
LeBron James (15847318851).jpg

James in 2014

No. 23 – Cleveland Cavaliers
Position Small forward
League NBA
Personal information
Born December 30, 1984 (age 32)
Akron, Ohio
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Listed weight 250 lb (113 kg)
Career information
High school St. Vincent–St. Mary
(Akron, Ohio)
NBA draft 2003 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers
Playing career 2003–present
Career history
20032010 Cleveland Cavaliers
20102014 Miami Heat
2014–present Cleveland Cavaliers
Career highlights and awards
Stats at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
 

Medals[hide]

Men's basketball
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2008 Beijing Team
Gold medal – first place 2012 London Team
Bronze medal – third place 2004 Athens Team
FIBA World Championship
Bronze medal – third place 2006 Saitama  
FIBA Americas Championship
Gold medal – first place 2007 Las Vegas  

LeBron Raymone James (/ləG2;br;4;n/; born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). James has won three NBA championships, four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, three NBA Finals MVP Awards, two Olympic gold medals, an NBA scoring title, and the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He has also been selected to 13 NBA All-Star teams, 13 All-NBA teams, and six All-Defensive teams, and is the Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer.

James played high school basketball at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar. After graduating, he was selected by his home team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft. James led Cleveland to the franchise's first Finals appearance in 2007, ultimately losing to the San Antonio Spurs. In 2010, he left the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in a highly publicized ESPN special titled The Decision. James spent four seasons with the Heat, reaching the Finals all four years and winning back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. In 2013, he led Miami on a 27-game winning streak, the third longest in league history. Following his final season with the Heat, James opted out of his contract and returned to the Cavaliers. Behind his leadership[further explanation needed], Cleveland immediately advanced to three consecutive Finals against the Golden State Warriors, winning the championship in 2016 to end Cleveland's 52-year professional sports title drought.

Off the court, James has accumulated considerable wealth and fame from numerous endorsement contracts. His public life has been the subject of much scrutiny, and he has been ranked as one of America's most influential and popular athletes. He has been featured in books, documentaries, and television commercials. He also hosted the ESPY AwardsSaturday Night Live, and appeared in the 2015 film Trainwreck.

 

Contents

  [hide] 

 

Early life

James was born on December 30, 1984 in AkronOhio to a 16-year-old mother, Gloria Marie James, who raised James on her own.[1][2]:22 When James was growing up, life was often a struggle for the family, as they moved from apartment to apartment in the seedier neighborhoods of Akron while Gloria struggled to find steady work.[3] Realizing that he would be better off in a more stable family environment, Gloria allowed James to move in with the family of Frank Walker, a local youth football coach, who introduced James to basketball when he was nine years old.[2]:23

As a youth, James played Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball for the Northeast Ohio Shooting Stars.[3] The team enjoyed success on a local and national level, led by James and his friends Sian Cotton, Dru Joyce III, and Willie McGee.[2]:24The players were inseparable and dubbed themselves the "Fab Four", promising each other that they would attend high school together.[2]:27 In a move that stirred local controversy, they chose to attend St. Vincent–St. Mary High School, a predominately white private Catholic school.[4][5]

High school career

Basketball

As a freshman, James averaged 21 points and 6 rebounds per game for the St. Vincent-St. Mary varsity basketball team.[6] The Fighting Irish finished the year 27–0, winning the Division III state title.[6] As a sophomore, he averaged 25.2 points and 7.2 rebounds with 5.8 assists and 3.8 steals per game.[7] For some home games during the season, St. Vincent-St. Mary played at the University of Akron's 5,492-seat Rhodes Arena to satisfy ticket demand from alumni, fans, and college and NBA scouts who wanted to see James play.[2]:51[8] The Fighting Irish finished the season 26–1 and repeated as state champions.[6] For his outstanding play, James was named Ohio's Mr. Basketball and was selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team, becoming the first sophomore to do either.[9]

Prior to the start of James' junior year, he appeared in SLAM Magazine and was lauded as possibly "the best high school basketball player in America right now."[10] During the season, he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, becoming the first high school basketball underclassman to do so.[2]:104 With averages of 29 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 3.3 steals per game,[6] he was again named Ohio's Mr. Basketball and selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team,[6] and became the first junior to win the boys' basketball Gatorade National Player of the Year Award.[2]:117 St. Vincent-St. Mary finished the year with a 23–4 record, ending their season with a loss in the Division II championship game.[2]:114 Following the loss, James seriously considered declaring for the 2002 NBA draft, unsuccessfully petitioning for an adjustment to the NBA's draft eligibility rules that required prospective players to have at least graduated from high school.[11] During this time, James used marijuana to help cope with the stress that resulted from the constant media attention he was receiving.[12][13][14]

During his senior year, James and the Fighting Irish traveled around the country to play a number of nationally ranked teams, including a game against Oak Hill Academy that was nationally televised on ESPN2.[2]:142 Time Warner Cable, looking to capitalize on James' popularity, offered St. Vincent-St. Mary's games to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis throughout the season.[2]:143 For the year, James averaged 31.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 3.4 steals per game,[9] was named Ohio's Mr. Basketball and USA Today All-USA First Team for an unprecedented third consecutive year,[2]:178[6] and was named Gatorade National Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.[6] He participated in three year-end high school basketball all-star games—the EA Sports Roundball Classic, the Jordan Capital Classic, and the 2003 McDonald's All-American Game—losing his NCAA eligibility and making it official he would enter the 2003 NBA draft.[15] According to writer Ryan Jones, James left high school as "the most hyped basketball player ever".[2]:142

Also during his senior year, James was the centerpiece of several controversies. For his 18th birthday, he skirted state amateur bylaws by accepting a Hummer H2 from his mother, who had secured a loan for the vehicle by utilizing LeBron's future earning power as a professional athlete.[16] This prompted an investigation by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), because its guidelines stated that no amateur may accept any gift valued over $100 as a reward for athletic performance. James was cleared of any wrongdoing, because he had accepted the gift from a family member and not from an agent or any outside source.[15] Later in the season, James accepted two throwback jerseys worth $845 from an urban clothing store in exchange for posing for pictures, officially violating OHSAA rules and resulting in his being stripped of his high school sports eligibility.[15] James appealed the ruling and his penalty was eventually dropped to a two-game suspension, allowing him to play the remainder of the year. The Irish were also forced to forfeit one of their wins, their only official loss that season.[17] In his first game back after the suspension, James scored a career-high 52 points.[18]

Football

James played wide receiver for St. Vincent-St. Mary's football team in high school and was recruited by some Division I programs, including Notre Dame.[2]:51[19] As a sophomore, he was named first team all-state, and as a junior, he led the High School football team Fighting Irish to the state semifinals.[7] His football career came to an end before his senior year when he broke his wrist during an AAU basketball game.[20] Many sports analysts, football critics, high school coaches, and former and current players have speculated on whether he could have played in the National Football League.[2]:91[21][22][23][24]

Professional career

Cleveland Cavaliers (2003–2010)

Rookie season (2003–2004)

James picks up his dribble against the Washington Wizards in November 2006.

James was selected by his home team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft.[25] In his first regular season game, he scored 25 points against the Sacramento Kings, setting an NBA record for most points scored by a prep-to-pro player in his debut performance.[26] At the conclusion of the season, he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year, finishing with averages of 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game.[27] He became the first Cavalier to receive the honor and just the third player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game as a rookie.[28] The Cavaliers finished the season 35–47, failing to make the playoffs despite an 18-game improvement over the previous year.[29]

Rise to superstardom (2004–2008)

James earned his first NBA All-Star Game selection in 2004–05, contributing 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists in a winning effort for the Eastern Conference.[30] Around the league, coaches and players took note of his rapid development, with George Karl telling Sports Illustrated, "It's weird talking about a 20-year-old kid being a great player, but he is a great player ... He's the exception to almost every rule."[31] On March 20, James scored 56 points against the Toronto Raptors, setting Cleveland's new single-game points record.[32] With final averages of 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, he was named to his first All-NBA Team.[7] Despite a 30–20 record to start the year,[32] the Cavaliers again failed to make the playoffs, finishing the season at 42–40.[33]

At the 2006 All-Star Game, James led the East to victory with 29 points and was named the NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player.[34] Behind final season averages of 31.4 points, 7 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game,[35] he finished second in overall NBA Most Valuable Player Award voting to Steve Nash.[36] Under James' leadership, the Cavaliers qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1998.[37] In his postseason debut, he recorded a triple-double in a winning effort versus the Washington Wizards.[38] In Game 3 of the series, he made the first game-winning shot of his career, making another in Game 5.[39] Cleveland would go on to defeat the Wizards before being ousted by the Detroit Pistons in the second round.[40][41]

James engages in his pre-game ritual of tossing crushed chalk into the air in March 2008. The routine was mostly retired after 2011.[42][43]

In 2006–07, James' averages declined to 27.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.[7] Some analysts attributed the fall to a regression in his passing skills and shot selection, stemming from a lack of effort and focus.[44] The Cavaliers finished the season with 50 wins for the second consecutive year and entered the playoffs as the East's second seed.[45][46] In Game 5 of the Conference Finals, James notched 48 points with 9 rebounds and 7 assists, scoring 29 of Cleveland's last 30 points, including the game-winning layup with two seconds left, against the Pistons.[47] After the game, play-by-play announcer Marv Albert called the performance "one of the greatest moments in postseason history" and color commentator Steve Kerr described it as "Jordan-esque".[48] In 2012, ESPN ranked the performance the fourth greatest in modern NBA playoff history.[49] The Cavaliers went on to win Game 6 and claim their first-ever Eastern Conference championship.[50] They advanced to the NBA Finals, where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.[51] For the Finals, James averaged 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game.[27]

In February of the 2007–08 season, James was named All-Star Game MVP for the second time behind a 27-point, 8-rebound, and 9-assist performance.[52][53] On March 21, he moved past Brad Daugherty as the Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer in a game against the Raptors, doing so in over 100 less games than Daugherty.[54] His 30 points per game were also the highest in the league, representing his first scoring title.[55]Despite his individual accomplishments, Cleveland's record fell from the year before to 45–37.[56] Seeded fourth in the East entering the playoffs, the Cavaliers defeated the Wizards in the first round for the third consecutive season before being eliminated in seven games by the eventual-champion Boston Celtics in the next round.[57] During the decisive seventh game in Boston, James scored 45 points and Paul Pierce scored 41 in a game the Associated Press described as a "shootout".[58]

First MVP tenure (2008–2010)

James and DeShawn Stevenson in April 2008. The two had a short feud after Stevenson called James "overrated".[59]

At the conclusion of the 2008–09 season, James finished second in NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting and made his first NBA All-Defensive Team, posting 23 chase-down blocks and a career-high 93 total blocks.[60][61] He also became only the fourth postmerger player to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks in a single season.[62] Behind his play and the acquisition of All-Star guard Mo Williams, Cleveland went a franchise record 66–16 and fell one game short of matching the best home record in league history.[63] With averages of 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game, James became the first Cavalier to win the MVP Award.[64]

In the playoffs, Cleveland swept the Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks to earn a matchup with the Orlando Magic in the Conference Finals.[65] In Game 1 of the series, James scored 49 points on 66 percent shooting in a losing effort for the Cavaliers.[49] In Game 2, he hit a game-winner to tie the series at 1–1.[66] Cleveland would lose the series in six games, and following the loss in Game 6, James immediately left the floor without shaking hands with his opponents, an act many media members viewed as unsportsmanlike.[67][68] For the series, he averaged 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8 assists per game,[69] finishing the postseason with a career playoff-high 35.3 points per game.[35]

Midway through the 2009–10 season, the Cavaliers' guards experienced significant injuries, forcing James into a temporary point guard role.[70]With increased minutes as the team's primary ball handler, he averaged 8.6 assists in addition to 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1 block per game on 50 percent shooting, culminating in a second consecutive MVP Award.[71] Cleveland also finished the season with the league's best record for the second straight year.[72] In the playoffs, the Cavaliers defeated the Bulls in the first round but lost to the Celtics in the second round.[73] James was heavily criticized for not playing well in Game 5 of the series, shooting only 20 percent on 14 shots and scoring 15 points.[74]At the conclusion of the game, he walked off the court to a smattering of boos from Cleveland's home crowd, the team having just suffered their worst home playoff loss ever.[75] The Cavaliers were officially eliminated from the postseason in Game 6, with James recording 27 points, 19 rebounds, 10 assists, and nine turnovers in a losing effort.[73]

2010 free agency

Main article: The Decision (TV special)

James with the Cavaliers in November 2009. He finished his first stint with the Cavs averaging 27.8 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.[76]

James became an unrestricted free agent at 12:01 am EDT on July 1, 2010.[77] During his free agency, he was contacted by several teams, including the Bulls, Los Angeles ClippersMiami HeatNew York KnicksNew Jersey Nets, and Cavaliers.[78] On July 8, he announced that he would sign with the Heat on a live ESPN special titled The Decision.[79] The telecast, broadcast from the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Connecticut, raised $2.5 million for the charity and an additional $3.5 million from advertisement revenue that was donated to other charities.[80][81] The day before the special, fellow free agents Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade had also announced that they would sign with Miami;[82][83] reports later arose that the trio had discussed their 2010 free agencies together in 2006.[84] James decided to join with Bosh and Wade in part so that he could shoulder less of the load offensively, thinking that his improved teammates would give him a better chance of winning a championship than had he stayed in Cleveland.[85][86] Heat president Pat Riley played a major role in selling James on the idea of playing with Bosh and Wade.[87] Relieved of the burden of scoring, James thought he could be the first player to average a triple-double in a season since Oscar Robertson.[85]

James drew intense criticism from sports analysts, executives, fans, and current and former players for leaving the Cavaliers. The Decision itself was also scrutinized and viewed as unnecessary. Many thought the prolonged wait for James' choice was unprofessional as not even the teams courting him were aware of his decision until moments before the show.[88] Upon learning that James would not be returning to Cleveland, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert published an open letter to fans in which he aggressively denounced James' actions.[89] Some angry fans of the team recorded videos of themselves burning his jersey.[90] Former NBA players, including Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, were also critical of James, condemning him for joining with Bosh and Wade in Miami and not trying to win a championship as "the guy".[91][92][93] James drew further criticism in a September interview with CNN when he claimed that race might have been a factor in the fallout from The Decision.[94][95] As a result of his actions during the 2010 free agency period, he quickly gained a reputation as one of America's most disliked athletes, a radical change from years prior.[96][97] The phrase "taking my talents to South Beach" became a punch line for critics.[98][99]

Immediately following The Decision, James claimed that there was nothing he would change about the handling of his free agency despite all the criticism.[100] During the 2010–11 season, he expressed some regret, admitting, "[I] probably would do it a little bit different ... But I'm happy with my decision."[101] Before the 2011–12 season, he relented, "... if the shoe was on the other foot and I was a fan, and I was very passionate about one player, and he decided to leave, I would be upset too about the way he handled it."[97]

Miami Heat (2010–2014)

Year of controversy (2010–2011)

James attempts a slam dunk in March 2011 as a member of the Miami Heat.

James officially became a member of the Heat on July 10, 2010.[102] With the move, he became only the third reigning MVP to change teams and the first since Moses Malone in 1982.[103] That evening, the Heat threw a welcome party for their new "big three" at the American Airlines Arena, an event that took on a rock concert atmosphere.[104] During the gathering, James predicted a dynasty for the Heat and alluded to multiple championships.[105][106] Outside of Miami, the spectacle was not well-received, furthering the negative public perception of James.[107][108]

Throughout the 2010–11 season, James embraced the villain role that was bestowed upon him by the media, playing with an angry demeanor and less joy than in years past; he later admitted that he regretted this approach.[109] On December 2, he faced the Cavaliers in Cleveland for the first time since departing as a free agent, scoring 38 points and leading Miami to a win while being booed every time he touched the ball.[110][111]He finished the season with averages of 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7 assists per game on 51 percent shooting.[35] Entering the playoffs as the East's second seed, Miami advanced to the Finals before stumbling against the Dallas Mavericks, losing in six games despite holding a 2–1 series lead going into Game 4.[112] James received the brunt of the criticism for the loss, averaging only three points in fourth quarters in the series.[113]His Finals scoring average of 17.8 points per game signified an 8.9-point drop from the regular season, the largest point drop-off in league history.[114]

Back-to-back championships (2011–2013)

Humbled by the Heat's loss to the Mavericks, James spent the offseason working with Hakeem Olajuwon on his post game.[115] His work with Olajuwon paid off, fueling what Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry called "one of the greatest and most important transformations in recent sports history".[116] Behind James' more post-oriented play,[116] Miami matched their best start to a season in franchise history,[117] and at the conclusion of the lockout-shortened 2011–12 season, he was named MVP for the third time, finishing with averages of 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.9 steals per game on 53 percent shooting.[118]

James stands at midcourt during a dead ball in January 2013. On that night, he became the youngest player in NBA history to score 20,000 career points.[119]

In Game 4 of the second round of the playoffs, James registered 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists to help even the series against the Indiana Pacers.[120] Miami eventually defeated the Pacers in six games.[121] Facing elimination in Game 6 of the Conference Finals against the Celtics, James scored 45 points to lead the Heat to victory in what The New York Times called a "career-defining performance".[122] Miami won Game 7 to advance to the Finals, earning them a matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder.[121] Late in Game 4 of the series, James hit a three-pointer to give the Heat a lead, helping them win the game despite missing time with leg cramps.[123] In Game 5, he registered a triple-double as Miami defeated Oklahoma City for their second-ever championship and James' first championship.[124] James was unanimously voted the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player with averages of 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game.[125] His full postseason run, in which he averaged 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game, was later ranked the second best in modern NBA history by ESPN.[126]

In February of the 2012–13 season, James' performance was described by Sports Illustrated as a "month for the ages",[127] averaging 29.7 points and 7.8 assists per game while setting multiple shooting efficiency records.[128][129][130] During this period, the Heat began a 27-game winning streak, the 

 

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