LeBron James


LeBron James
LeBron James
James with the Heat
No. 6   Miami Heat
Small forward
Personal information
Date of birth December 30, 1984 (1984-12-30) (age 26)
Place of birth Akron, Ohio, United States
Nationality American
High school St. Vincent – St. Mary High School
Listed height 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Listed weight 250 lb (113 kg)
Career information
NBA Draft 2003 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers
Pro career 2003–present
Career history
20032010 Cleveland Cavaliers
2010–present Miami Heat
Career highlights and awards
Stats at NBA.com

LeBron Raymone James (pronounced /ləˈbrɒn/; born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nicknamed "King James", he was a three-time "Mr. Basketball" of Ohio in high school, and was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar while a sophomore at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School. He was selected with the number one pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Listed as a small forward, James has set numerous youngest player records since joining the league. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003–04, was named the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2008–09 and 2009–10, and has been both an All-NBA selection and an All-Star every season since 2005. In 2010, a much-publicized free agency process ended with James signing with the Miami Heat.

James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to consecutive playoff appearances from 2006 through 2010. In 2007, the Cavaliers advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, but lost to the San Antonio Spurs. In 2011, James and the Miami Heat advanced to the NBA Finals but lost to the Dallas Mavericks. James has been a member of the USA national team, winning a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics and gold at the 2008 Olympics.

Contents

High school career

James attended St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in Akron, where he became a starter during his freshman year for the Fighting Irish. He averaged 21 points and 6.2 rebounds, and led the team to a 23–1 record, en route to the Division III state title. Coach Keith Dambrot started working with James doing $1 clinics at a local recreation center.[1] In his sophomore year, James averaged 25.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 3.8 steals.[1] He led the team to a 26–1 record and a Division III state title for the second straight season.[2] He was the first sophomore to be named Ohio's "Mr. Basketball" and became the first sophomore ever selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team.[2]

In James' junior year his stats improved again. He averaged 29.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.3 steals and was again named Mr. Basketball of Ohio.[2] He earned a spot on the All-USA First Team, and was named the 2001–02 boys' basketball Gatorade National Player of the Year. It was at this time that his nickname "King James" became a household staple in Ohio.

James appeared in SLAM Magazine, which began his nationwide exposure. The St. Vincent–St. Mary basketball team did not defend its state title when increased enrollment forced the team to move up to the more challenging Division II (Ohio high school basketball has four divisions based on annual enrollment figures) and lost to Roger Bacon High School. James considered declaring for the 2002 draft after the season ended by petitioning for an adjustment to the NBA's draft eligibility rules, which at the time required prospective players to have at least completed high school.[3] The petition was unsuccessful, but it ensured him an unprecedented level of nation-wide attention as he entered his senior year. By then, James had already appeared on the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. His popularity forced his team to move their practices from the school gym to the nearby James A. Rhodes Arena at the University of Akron. NBA stars such as Shaquille O'Neal attended the games, and a few of James' high school games were even televised nationally on ESPN2 and regionally on pay-per-view.[citation needed]

In 2003, James' mother, Gloria James, got approval for a loan to buy a Hummer H2 for her son's 18th birthday.[4] The bank took her son's future earning power into consideration, prompting an investigation by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA).[4] Under the OHSAA guidelines, no amateur may accept any gift valued over $100 as a reward for athletic performance.[5] When James later accepted two throwback jerseys of Wes Unseld and Gale Sayers worth $845 from NEXT, an urban clothing store in Shaker Square, in exchange for his posing for pictures to be displayed on the store's walls, OHSAA stripped him of his eligibility.[5] James appealed and a judge blocked the ruling, reducing the penalty to a two-game suspension and allowing him to play the remainder of the season. James' team was forced to forfeit one of their wins as a result.[6] That forfeit was the team's only official loss that season.

Despite the distractions, the Irish won a third state title, with James averaging 31.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.4 steals on the season.[2] James was named to the All-USA First Team for an unprecedented third time, and was selected as Mr. Basketball of Ohio for the third year in a row.[2] He earned MVP honors at the McDonald's All-American Game, the EA Sports Roundball Classic, and the Jordan Capital Classic. Although it was a foregone conclusion, by participating in more than two high school all-star events, James officially lost his NCAA eligibility.[7] James finished his high school career with 2,657 points, 892 rebounds and 523 assists.[2]

James also played football during his high school years at St.Vincent-St. Mary's. In his sophomore year he was named first-team all-state as a wide receiver, and in his junior year he led his team to the state semifinals.[1] Sports analysts have speculated on whether he could have played in the NFL.[8] He signed a shoe contract with Nike before his professional debut.[citation needed]

NBA career

Cleveland Cavaliers (2003–2010)

Rookie season

James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Facing the Sacramento Kings in his first NBA game, James recorded 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals and shot 60% from the floor.[9] After recording a season-high 41 points against the New Jersey Nets, James became the youngest player in league history to score at least 40 points in a game.[10] He was scheduled to compete in the 2004 Slam Dunk Contest during the All-Star weekend, although due to an ankle injury he suffered in January 2004, he was unable to participate in the contest.[11] James averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game for the season,[12] and was named 2003–04 NBA Rookie of the Year; becoming the first Cavalier and youngest NBA player to ever receive the award.[1] He 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 (Tyreke Evans has since joined this group).[1] The Cavaliers improved by 18 wins and concluded the regular season with a 35–47 record, but failed to make the playoffs.[13]

2004–05 season

In the 2004–05 season, James was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game and recorded 13 points, 6 assists, and 8 rebounds, as the Eastern All-Stars defeated the Western All-Stars 125–115.[14] During the season, James became the youngest player in league history to record a triple-double and make the All-NBA Team.[1] He averaged 27.2 points, 7.2 assists, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game.[12] The Cavaliers failed to reach the playoffs again and finished with a 42–40 regular season record.[15]

2005–06 season

In the 2005–06 season, James was elected to his second straight All-Star Game appearance and led the Eastern All-Stars to a 122–120 victory, with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. He became the youngest All-Star MVP at 21 years, 51 days.[16] He was named NBA Player of the Week for an unprecedented three consecutive weeks and concluded the season with five honors.[17] He scored 35 or more points in nine consecutive games, joining Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players since 1970 to accomplish the feat.[17] For the season, James averaged 31.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game,[12] and became the youngest player in NBA history to average at least 30 points. He became the fourth player in NBA history to average more than 30 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in a single season.[18] The Cavaliers made the playoffs for the first time since 1998,[19] and improved from a record of 17–65 in 2002–03 to 50–32 in 2005–06.[20]

Following the regular season, James was named as one of the candidates for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. Although he finished second to Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns in MVP voting, he was awarded co-MVP honors with Nash by The Sporting News; an award given by the publication that is based on the voting of thirty NBA general managers.[21]

James made his playoff debut against the Washington Wizards in 2006. He recorded a triple-double with 32 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds, as the Cavaliers defeated the Wizards 97–86.[22] He joined Johnny McCarthy and Magic Johnson as the only players in NBA history to register a triple-double in their playoff debut.[22] For the series, James averaged 35.7 points, as the Cavaliers defeated the Wizards in six games.[23] In the process, James set a new record for turnovers in a 6-game series, with 34. In the second round of the playoffs, James and the Cavaliers lost in seven games to the defending Eastern Conference champion and divisional rival Detroit Pistons. James averaged 30.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in the playoffs.[12]

At the end of the season, James negotiated a three-year contract extension, with a player option for a fourth year. The contract was worth $60 million and began at the start of the 2007–08 season.[24] Although it was for fewer years and less money than the maximum he could sign, it allowed him the option of seeking a new contract worth more money as an unrestricted free agent following the 2010 season.[24] He had discussed this with fellow members of his 2003 draft class, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who also re-signed with their respective teams while allowing them to be unrestricted agents in 2010.[25]

2006–07 season

James in April 2007

James was elected to his third consecutive All-Star game appearance during the 2006–07 season. He played a game high 32 minutes and finished with 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.[26] In the regular season, the Cavaliers tied the previous season's record with 50 wins and clinched the second seed of the Eastern Conference on the last day of the season.[27] For the season, James averaged 27.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.[1] He joined Robertson as the only players in NBA history to average 27 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game for three consecutive years.[28]

In the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, James led the Cavaliers to their first sweep in franchise history over the Washington Wizards in four games.[29] It was the first time the franchise had won consecutive road playoff games.[29] For the series, James averaged 27.8 points, 7.5 assists, and 8.5 rebounds.[12] In the second round of the playoffs, James led the Cavaliers to a 4–2 series victory over the New Jersey Nets.[30] He averaged 25.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 8.6 assists in the series,[12] as the Cavaliers advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 15 years.[30]

In the Eastern Conference Finals, James led the Cavaliers from an 0–2 deficit against the Detroit Pistons to win the series in six games. His performance in Game 5 was especially memorable. James recorded a franchise-record 48 points on 54.5% field goal shooting, to go with 9 rebounds and 7 assists. In addition, James scored 29 of Cleveland's last 30 points, including the team's final 25 points in a double-overtime victory. He concluded the night with a game-winning lay-up with 2 seconds left.[31] NBA analyst Marv Albert referred to James' performance as "one of the greatest moments in postseason history," while color commentator Steve Kerr called it "Jordan-esque."[32]

In the 2007 NBA Finals, James averaged 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists, as the Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs, losing 4 consecutive games.[1] For the postseason, James averaged 25.1 points, 8.0 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game.[12] He set a franchise record for double-doubles in a playoff season with eight and became the first Cavalier and the first non-guard in NBA history to have at least seven assists in eight consecutive playoff games.[1]

2007–08 season

James drives to the basket in a game in April 2008.

In the 2007–08 season, James continued his dominant play, earning his fourth consecutive All-Star Game appearance[33] and once again positioning himself as one of the front runners for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. He won the 2008 All-Star Game MVP with 27 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals as the Eastern Conference All-Stars defeated their Western counterparts, 134–128.[34]

On February 19, 2008, James recorded his fifth triple-double of the 2007–08 season by putting up 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists against the Houston Rockets. It was the fifteenth triple-double of his career. He is the third youngest player to post 15 triple-doubles, behind Robertson and Johnson.[35] He scored his sixth triple-double of the season and sixteenth of his career against the Indiana Pacers the very next game. It was the second time during the season that he had a triple-double in back-to-back games. The last player to accomplish that feat was Johnson in 1988.[36] James finished the season with seven triple-doubles, breaking his personal and team records for triple-doubles in a season and 17 career triple-doubles broke his team record as well.[37]

James taking part in his pre-game ritual of tossing crushed chalk in the air.

On February 27, 2008, against the Boston Celtics, James became the youngest person to score 10,000 points in his career at 23 years and 59 days, achieving the feat in style with a slam-dunk over 11-time All-Star Kevin Garnett, eclipsing the old mark by more than a year. James did so in 368 games, the ninth fastest in league history.[38][39] On March 5, 2008, James scored 50 points with 8 rebounds and 10 assists on the New York Knicks, becoming only the third player since the ABA-NBA merger to record a 50-point 10-assist game.[40] On March 21, 2008, James scored 29 points against the Toronto Raptors, taking him past Brad Daugherty's all-time Cavaliers scoring record of 10,389 points. Daugherty achieved this record over the course of 548 games, while James took only 380 games to score 10,414 points.[41]

All told, James propelled Cleveland to a 45–37 record, good for second place in the Central Division and the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Prior to Cleveland's first-round series versus the Washington Wizards, Wizards guard Deshawn Stevenson said James was "overrated," prompting James to say that he would not return the insult, as that would be "almost like Jay-Z [responding to a negative comment] made by Soulja Boy."[42] In response, Soulja Boy himself made an appearance at Game 3 of the series (played in Washington) in support of the Wizards, and his music was played over the PA system.[43] James would later say that he meant no disrespect to Soulja Boy with his comment, and that his young son is a big fan of the rapper. Jay-Z responded by producing a freestyle version of the Too Short single "Blow the Whistle", named "Playoff", in which he "disses" Stevenson and Soulja Boy on James' behalf.[44][45] The Cavaliers won the series against the Wizards in 6 games (4–2). The Cavaliers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the next round (4–3). During the decisive seventh game, which was played in Boston, James scored 45 points, but opponent Paul Pierce's 41 led the Celtics to a narrow victory.

2008–09 season

In the 2008–09 season James continued to improve facets of his game while setting new career highs. He had 23 chase-down blocks (93 blocks in total, a career-high) and improved his free-throw shooting (78.0%, a career-high, with league-leading 594 free-throws made).[46][47] He was the NBA Player of the Month four times, making him the second player in NBA history to do that after Kevin Garnett did so in his 2003–04 MVP season.[48] In addition, he became the fourth player in NBA history to lead his team in all five major statistical categories (total points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) in one season.[49]

James defending Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics in October 2008

After a win on March 25 against the New Jersey Nets the Cleveland Cavaliers improved their record to 58–13 exceeding their previous franchise best of 57–25 set in the 1988–89 and 1991–92 NBA seasons. They ended the regular season with a league best of 66–16 after losing their final home game to the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime. The Cavaliers had a chance to tie the 1985–86 Boston Celtics for the all-time best NBA home record but ended at 39–2 after home losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and 76ers.

James dribbles the ball in a game in April 2009.

In the playoffs, the Cavaliers swept the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs. James averaged 32.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the series and became just the third player in NBA history to average at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a postseason series. At the end of the last game, in which he tallied 36 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists on 16–17 free throw shooting, there were MVP chants for him in The Palace of Auburn Hills.[50] On May 4, he was announced as the NBA Most Valuable Player. He became the first Cavaliers player in history to win the award.[51][52][53]

He was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team for the first time in his career.[54]

In the next series in the playoffs, James once again led his team to a sweep against the Atlanta Hawks.[55]

On May 22, during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Orlando Magic's Hedo Türkoğlu shot a 12-foot jumper to give the Magic a 2-point lead with 1 second left. Following a Cleveland timeout, Williams inbounded the ball to James, but heavy defense by Türkoğlu denied James a chance at a tying layup. James then attempted and made a three-point shot over Türkoğlu, giving the Cavs a 96–95 victory to tie the series 1–1.[56] Following a Game 3 road loss, James attempted another game-winning, buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 4, but from farther out; it missed, thus dropping the Cavaliers 1-3 in the series.[57] After a Game 5 home win, he scored a playoff low 25 points in Game 6 and Cleveland lost the series to Orlando. James' postgame behavior incited some controversy when he left the game floor without shaking hands with his opponents.[58] James later told reporters:

"It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them, I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. ... I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand."[59]

2009–10 season

James taking a free throw against the Atlanta Hawks.

Before the 2009–10 season, Cleveland traded for four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal to address an inside presence that was missing against Orlando.[60] O'Neal's goal was to "Win a Ring for the King."[61] James was selected to his sixth consecutive All-Star game appearance.[62] He became the first player to earn at least 2.5 million votes three times.[62] James recorded 25 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals as the Eastern Conference All-Stars defeated the Western Conference All-Stars 141–139.[63] In a 118–116 loss to the Denver Nuggets, James tallied 43 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists, two steals and four blocks in a game.[64] He was the first player to have at least 40 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds in a game since Robertson did so on February 13, 1962.[64] All-Star Antawn Jamison was acquired by the Cavs on February 17, 2010.[65] On March 13, 2010, James became the youngest player in NBA history to score 15,000 regular season points during a 92–85 win over the Chicago Bulls.[66]

At the end of the regular season, Cleveland finished with the best regular season record for the second consecutive year.[67] James won the Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career, becoming the tenth NBA player in history to do so.[68] James received 116 of a possible 122 first-place votes to win.[68]

In the playoffs, the Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls in the first round, but fell to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.[69] James was criticized for not playing well, especially in Game 5 of the series, in which he shot only 3 for 14 and scored 15 points.[70] He walked off the court in that game, his final home game as a Cavalier, "to a smattering of boos and rows of empty seats" and Cleveland lost 88–120 in their worst home playoff loss in team history.[71] Cleveland was eliminated in Game 6, James' last playing for Cleveland, as he recorded 27 points, 19 rebounds, 10 assists, but also 9 turnovers.[69]

2010 free agency

James became a free-agent at 12:01 am ET on July 1, 2010.[72] He filed papers to formally change his jersey number 23 to 6 for the season.[73] James was courted by several teams, including the Knicks, Nets, Heat, Bulls, Mavericks, Clippers, and his hometown Cavaliers.[74]

On July 8, 2010, James announced on a live ESPN special, The Decision, that he would be playing for the Miami Heat for the 2010–11 season and teaming with Miami's other All-Star free agent signees Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.[75] The Decision was broadcast from the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Connecticut.

In this fall, this is very tough, in this fall I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat... I feel like it's going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championships. And I feel like I can compete down there.[76][77]
—LeBron James

Wade had informed Heat President Pat Riley that James wanted to become less of a scorer and more of a distributor, and James looked forward to no longer carrying the offense night after night as he did playing with Cleveland.[78] Riley sold to James that "LeBron would be Magic Johnson, Dwyane Wade would be Kobe Bryant, Chris would be Kevin Garnett." 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.[78][79]

The Cavaliers were informed of James' decision minutes before the show began.[80] The television program drew high ratings as well as criticism for the prolonged wait until James' actual decision and the spectacle of the show itself.[81]

In Cleveland, fans considered James' departure a betrayal that ranks second to Art Modell's efforts to relocate the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore.[82] Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert almost immediately published an open letter to fans, denouncing James' decision as a "selfish", "heartless", "callous", and "cowardly betrayal", while guaranteeing that the Cavs would win an NBA title before the "self-declared former King."[83] Gilbert's sports-memorabilia company Fathead also lowered the price of wall graphics depicting James from $99.99 to $17.41, the birth year of Benedict Arnold.[84] William Rhoden of The New York Times defended James by stating that Gilbert's "venomous, face-saving personal attack", along with the ensuing "wrath of jersey-burning fans", only validated James’ decision to leave Cleveland.[85] Reverend Jesse Jackson, American civil rights activist, said Gilbert's feelings "personify a slave master mentality", and he was treating James as "a runaway slave".[86] J. A. Adande of ESPN said, however, that James chose to promote the drama of his decision in an hour-long television special instead of showing "common courtesy" to notify Cleveland and other teams of his plans.[87] On July 12, 2010, NBA Commissioner David Stern fined Gilbert $100,000 for the letter's contents, while also criticizing the way James handled free agency.[88] On July 14, James told J. R. Moehringer for a GQ article that there was "nothing at all" he would change about his handling of free agency.[89]

Former NBA players criticized his decision to not stay with Cleveland and continuing to try to win a championship as "the guy".[90] Michael Jordan stated that he would not have contacted his rivals from other teams like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to play on one team together, as "I wanted to defeat those guys." Jordan added that "...things are different [now]. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today."[91] Johnson echoed Jordan's sentiments on teaming with rivals.[92]

On September 29, 2010, asked by Soledad O'Brien of CNN if race was a factor in the fallout from The Decision, James said, "I think so, at times. There's always – you know, a race factor."[93] James had previously stayed clear of racial issues.[94][95] When the earlier controversy over his cover on Vogue became a national debate, James had no comment.[95] Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, said James suddenly bringing up race in this instance was "laughable."[95] Jason Whitlock of Foxsports.com said James' usage of the race card was "an excuse to avoid dealing with his own bad (The) Decision."[96] Adande, however, said James "didn't claim to be a victim of racial persecution" and "caused us to examine the bias that's always lurking".[94]

Before a game against the Nets on October 31, his first game against one of his suitors, James reflected on his free agency: “If I had to go back on it, I probably would do it a little bit different,” James said. “But I’m happy with my decision.” He declined to be more specific.[97]

Miami Heat (2010–present)

LeBron James during the 2010–11 regular season.

On July 9, James officially completed a sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat.[98] On the same day, the Heat threw a welcome party and introduced James, Wade and Bosh to the 13,000 Heat fans at American Airlines Arena. The rock concert atmosphere featured the trio arriving to plumes of smoke with Bosh and Wade pointing to the crowd and James strutting around.[99] Howard Beck of The New York Times described the national fan reaction to the party: "Everyone saw something: greatness, arrogance, self-indulgence, boldness, cowardice, pride, friendship, collusion, joy, cynicism, heroes, mercenaries."[100] James became the third reigning NBA MVP to change teams and the first since Moses Malone in 1982.[101]

On November 2, James had a game-high 12 assists in a 129–97 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.[102] James was the primary ball handler for nearly the entire 33 minutes he played against the Wolves.[103] He has been playing throughout the season the point guard role that Riley sold to him during free agency.[103][104][105] "I don't want to be called a point guard, but I can't stop it," said James. Heat public relations announced that James's 12 assists was the highest in franchise history by a forward.[103] On November 9 in a 116–114 loss to the Utah Jazz, James finished with 20 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds, his first triple-double with the Heat.[106] It was his 29th career triple-double, the seventh that came in a loss.[107] On December 2, the Heat played in Cleveland in James' first game back since departing as a free agent. The crowd directed derisive chants and signs at James, who was booed every time he touched the ball. With tight security, the crowd was rowdy but not violent and there was only one arrest and four ejections. James scored a then-season-high 38 points and Miami won in a 118–90 blowout as the hostile crowd was quieted before halftime.[108][109] In a well publicized arrival after spurning the franchise, LeBron James had his second triple double of the season with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in a blowout victory.[110] In the Heat's 104–100 victory over the Orlando Magic on February 3, 2011, James scored 23 points in the first quarter, breaking Alonzo Mourning's single-game franchise record of 21 first-quarter points (March 29, 1996).[111] James finished the game with 51 points, a season high, along with 11 rebounds and eight assists.[112]

On March 29, in James' second game at Cleveland as a member of the Heat, he skipped his pregame player introduction, saying that he was using the bathroom, and entered the arena during the Cleveland Cavaliers player introductions. The Heat lost to the Cavaliers 102–90 despite James' 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.[113]

James finished second in the league in scoring with 26.7 points per game and Dwyane Wade finished fourth (25.5 points per game). They combined to score 4,052 points this season, most by a duo in franchise history.[114]

In the 2011 NBA Finals James finished with averages of 17.8 points, 6.8 assists, and 7.1 rebounds, although the Miami Heat were beaten in 6 games by the Dallas Mavericks, 4–2. Throughout the postseason James averaged 23.6 points, 5.8 assists, and 8.3 rebounds. James's 17.8 points per game (down 8.9 points from 26.7) in the Finals was the largest drop off in points from a regular season to an NBA Finals in NBA history.[115]

International career

James goes up for a shot against China's Yao Ming in the Group B men's Olympic basketball game between the U.S. and China on August 10, 2008, at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

After his rookie season, James played on the 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team in Athens, where the US men's team won the bronze medal. It was the first time a U.S. Olympic team with NBA players failed to win the gold medal. Limited to 14.6 minutes per game, James averaged just 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.[116]

Along with Kobe Bryant, he was one of the first two players to be publicly named to the 2006–2008 U.S. preliminary roster in 2006 by Jerry Colangelo.[117] James competed in the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan and averaged 13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game.[118] The team finished with an 8–1 record, and was again awarded the bronze medal.[118] James was named as one of three captains for the 2006 USA Men's World Championship team, alongside Carmelo Anthony and Wade.[119]

After failing to win the 2006 World Championships, the team competed at the 2007 Tournament of Americas Olympic qualifiers to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. During the gold medal game against Argentina, James recorded 31 points, the most by an American in an Olympic qualifier, as the United States captured gold medal honors.[120] He averaged 18.1 points (on tournament-high field-goal percentage (76%) and three-point percentage (62.2%), 4.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 22.2 minutes per game.

James, along with the rest of Team USA reclaimed the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, defeating Spain 118 to 107. He finished the gold medal game with 14 points along with 6 rebounds and 3 assists as the U.S. went unbeaten, winning their first gold medal since the 2000 Olympics.[121] It was later reported that James' "immaturity and downright disrespectfulness" were a risk to his being included on the Beijing Olympic team as Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo believed that Bryant joining the national team would allow the team to win the gold medal with or without James.[80]

Player profile

James attempts to dunk the basketball.

As of the 2010–11 season, James has averaged 27.7 points, 7.0 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game for his career in the regular season,[12] and has recorded 34 triple-doubles in his career,[122] with 28 in the regular season and six in the postseason.[1] In the 2005–06 season, he led the league in completed traditional three point plays.[1] He regularly ranks among the league leaders in rebounds for the small forward position.[123][124] James' skills have led to many comparisons to NBA legends Robertson, Johnson, and Jordan.[125] James was not named to the NBA All-Defensive Team until the 2008–09 season, when he finished second in voting for Defensive Player of the Year.

In March 2011, the New York Times wrote that James "has not mastered a reliable midrange jumper ... has not developed a go-to move in the post" and his options in a half-court set at the end of games "often are a long jump shot or a mad dash to the rim."[126]

James started a petition saying that no one should be allowed to wear the No. 23 in the NBA to honor Jordan.[127] On March 1, 2010, James filed an application to the NBA to wear the No. 6 starting the 2010–11 season.[128]

Off the court

Personal life

James was born on December 30, 1984 in Akron, Ohio, to a 16-year-old mother, Gloria. His biological father, Anthony McClelland, was an ex-convict who left Gloria. Gloria then had to raise LeBron by herself.[129][130]

James has two children with his high school sweetheart, Savannah Brinson. The first, LeBron James Jr., was born on October 6, 2004,[131] and the second, Bryce Maximus James, on June 14, 2007.[131][132] They currently reside in Coconut Grove, a Miami suburb, where James bought a three-story mansion overlooking Biscayne Bay for $9 million on November 12, 2010.[133]

Endorsements

James is a minority stakeholder of Liverpool F.C.

James has endorsement contracts with Nike, Sprite, Glacéau, Bubblicious, Upper Deck, McDonald's and State Farm.[134][135] With Nike, James has released six signature shoe styles, and four additional shoes (20–5–5, Soldier, Soldier 2, Ambassador). He has acted in a 2007 series of commercials called "The LeBrons", as well as had his likeness voiced by Kenan Thompson in a 2009 commercial series titled "MVPuppets". In December 2007, James was ranked at No.1 in the Forbes Top 20 Earners Under 25 with annual earnings of $27 million.[136]

James and Ice Cube have paired up to pitch a one-hour special to ABC based on James' life. James will act as executive producer if the show is greenlighted.[137] James appeared on the cover of the February 2009 edition of GQ magazine.[138] He stars in the Lions Gate film, More Than a Game (2009).

Following an agreement with Fenway Sports Group to become the sole marketer of his rights globally, in return as part of the deal James and his manager Maverick Carter became minority stakeholders in English Premier League giants Liverpool F.C.[139]

On April 10, 2011 James became the new global brand ambassador for luxury Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet. He will in addition collaborate to produce his own limited-edition watch, for which he will donate the proceeds from any future auctions of these timepieces to his charity, the LeBron James Family Foundation.[140]

Public image

During the 2007 NBA Playoffs, James drew criticism[141] when he declined to sign a petition started by his teammate, Ira Newble, regarding the Chinese government's alleged involvement in the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, stating that he did not know enough about the issue.[142][143] A year later, James did talk publicly about the issue, saying, "At the end of the day we're talking about human rights. And people should understand that human rights and people's lives are in jeopardy. We're not talking about contracts here. We're not talking about money. We're talking about people's lives being lost and that means a lot more to me than some money or a contract."[144]

James received criticism from Cleveland fans and critics for attending Cleveland Indians games against the New York Yankees dressed in a Yankees hat. James said, "As individuals I want every Indian to succeed. I love all these fans for coming out and supporting us. But team-wise I want the Yankees to win." Despite residing in Ohio for all of his childhood, James added that he grew up as a Yankees fan, a Dallas Cowboys fan and a Chicago Bulls fan.[145] In January 2008, Nike released the Air Zoom V LeBron shoe, which featured a Yankees-type motif and was made available only in New York City.[146]

The WWI Destroy This Mad Brute poster, the 1933 King Kong movie poster and the April 2008 Vogue cover with James and Gisele Bündchen which critics claim referenced the earlier posters.[147][148]

In March 2008, James became the first black man to appear on the cover of Vogue, posing with Gisele Bündchen.[147] He was the third man to appear on the cover of Vogue, after Richard Gere and George Clooney. Some sports bloggers and columnists considered the cover offensive, describing the demeanor of James and his holding Bündchen as a reference to classic imagery of the movie monster King Kong, a dark savage capturing his light-skinned love interest.[147][148]

In June 2008, James donated $20,000 to a committee to elect Barack Obama.[149] On October 29, 2008, James gathered almost 20,000 people at the Quicken Loans Arena for a viewing of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's 30-minute American Stories, American Solutions television advertisement. It was shown on a large screen above the stage, where Jay-Z later held a free concert.[150]

On July 6, 2009, James courted controversy when he ordered organizers to confiscate CBS video tape of him being dunked on by Xavier University guard Jordan Crawford at the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy.[151]

On July 23 in an interview for his upcoming book "Shooting Stars",[152] James admitted to smoking marijuana at one point during his high school career to help cope with all the stress resulting from constant media attention he was receiving at the time.[153][154][155][156]

James, with comedian Jimmy Kimmel, co-hosted the 2007 ESPY Awards. James himself was nominated for three ESPYs: Best Male Athlete, Best NBA Player (winner), and Best Record Breaking Performance. The performance for which he was nominated was when he scored 48 points in Game 5 of the 2007 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons, including 29 of the last 30 points and all of the team's 25 points in overtime.[32] In other comedic pursuits, James hosted the 33rd season premiere of Saturday Night Live. The show's creator Lorne Michaels praised him for his versatility.

In April 2010, Forbes ranked James as the second most influential athlete behind Lance Armstrong.[157]

In September 2010, The Q Score Company ranked James as the sixth most disliked sports personality behind Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Kobe Bryant.[158]

Salaries

Season Team Salary
2003–04 Cleveland $4,018,920
2004–05 Cleveland $4,320,360
2005–06 Cleveland $4,621,800
2006–07 Cleveland $5,828,090
2007–08 Cleveland $13,041,250
2008–09 Cleveland $14,410,581
2009–10 Cleveland $15,779,912
2010–11 Miami $14,500,000

NBA career statistics

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

Regular season

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2003–04 Cleveland 79 79 39.5 .417 .290 .754 5.5 5.9 1.6 .7 20.9
2004–05 Cleveland 80 80 42.4 .472 .351 .750 7.4 7.2 2.2 .6 27.2
2005–06 Cleveland 79 79 42.5 .480 .335 .738 7.0 6.6 1.6 .8 31.4
2006–07 Cleveland 78 78 40.9 .476 .319 .698 6.7 6.0 1.6 .7 27.3
2007–08 Cleveland 75 74 40.4 .484 .315 .712 7.9 7.2 1.8 1.1 30.0
2008–09 Cleveland 81 81 37.7 .489 .344 .780 7.6 7.2 1.7 1.1 28.4
2009–10 Cleveland 76 76 39.0 .503 .333 .767 7.3 8.6 1.6 1.0 29.7
2010–11 Miami 79 79 38.8 .510 .330 .759 7.5 7.0 1.6 .6 26.7
Career 627 626 40.1 .479 .329 .759 7.1 7.0 1.7 .8 27.7
All-Star 7 7 30.9 .511 .326 .760 7.1 6.0 1.6 .3 24.4

Playoffs

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2006 Cleveland 13 13 46.5 .476 .333 .737 8.1 5.8 1.4 .7 30.8
2007 Cleveland 20 20 44.7 .416 .280 .755 8.1 8.0 1.7 .5 25.1
2008 Cleveland 13 13 42.5 .411 .257 .731 7.8 7.6 1.8 1.3 28.2
2009 Cleveland 14 14 41.4 .510 .333 .749 9.1 7.3 1.6 .9 35.3
2010 Cleveland 11 11 41.8 .502 .400 .733 9.3 7.6 1.7 1.8 29.1
2011 Miami 21 21 43.9 .466 .353 .763 8.4 5.9 1.7 1.2 23.7
Career 92 92 43.6 .460 .323 .746 8.4 7.0 1.6 1.0 28.0

Awards and honors

  • 2× NBA Most Valuable Player: 2009, 2010
  • NBA Rookie of the Year: 2004
  • NBA Scoring Champion: 2008
  • 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP: 2006, 2008
  • NBA All-Star: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • All-NBA:
    • First Team: 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
    • Second Team: 2005, 2007
  • NBA All-Defensive:
    • First Team: 2009, 2010, 2011
  • NBA All-Rookie First Team: 2004
  • 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

See also

  • List of National Basketball Association career playoff free throw scoring leaders

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Further reading

  • Freedman, Lew (2008). LeBron James : A Biography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0313343612. 
  • Jones, Ryan (2005). King James : Believe The Hype : The LeBron James Story. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312349920. 
  • Morgan, David Lee (2003). LeBron James : The Rise of a Star. Cleveland: Gray & Co.. ISBN 1886228744. 
  • Pluto, Terry; Windhorst, Brian (2007). The Franchise : Lebron James and the Remaking of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland: Gray & Co.. ISBN 1598510282. 

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