LeBron Raymone James, born December 30, 1984 in Akron, Ohio, commonly nicknamed King James or LBJ, is an American All-Star small forward in the National Basketball Association who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Beginning in his junior year of high school, James was highly promoted by the national media in the United States as a future NBA star. He was selected with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers at the age of 18, becoming only the second high school player taken at the number one draft position.
LeBron James was born an only child in a low-income area of Akron, Ohio to the unwed Gloria James on December 30, 1984. His mother was only 16 at the time and six months shy of graduating from high school. Moving frequently from one home to another, things began to look up for him when his mother began seeing a man by the name of Eddie Jackson. James was young enough at the time to have him serve as a father figure; he did not have any contact with his biological father. Jackson would often be seen supporting James later on at his high school basketball games. Starting as early as his junior year in high school, James had made it clear he was planning to pursue an NBA career following his graduation.
James was the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Because of immense public interest in James, he became an instant celebrity. Even before he played a single NBA game, he was awarded an unprecedented $95 million shoe contract by Nike.
Facing the Sacramento Kings in his first NBA game, he scored 25 points in addition to nine assists, six rebounds, and four steals on 12-of-20 shooting . He earned Rookie of the Year honors, finishing his rookie season with 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. He joined Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only three players in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game in a rookie season. The Cavaliers improved by 18 wins in his first season, but failed to make the playoffs.
Following his rookie campaign, James played for Team USA in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece where he and his teammates won the bronze medal in men's basketball, the first time an American Olympic team using NBA players (called the Dream Teams) failed to win the gold medal. Due to coach Larry Brown's preference for experienced players, James didn't see much playing time.
In the 2004-2005 season, James became the youngest player to register a triple-double and the youngest player to score 50 points in one game. In the process he was selected to his first All-Star team. James's season averages also improved drastically (27.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, and 7.2 apg). Again, the Cavaliers failed to reach the playoffs, finishing two games over .500.
The Cavaliers made several off-season moves in the summer of 2005, adding Larry Hughes , Damon Jones, and Donyell Marshall. The Cavs' front office underwent substantial management changes at this time as well. Long-time owner Gordon Gund sold the franchise to Dan Gilbert, who subsequently replaced General Manager Jim Paxson with former Cavs player Danny Ferry, and brought in Mike Brown as the new head coach.
At the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, James led the Eastern Conference team to victory with a 29-point, six-rebound performance. He was awarded the game's MVP, becoming the youngest player to do so.
James finished the season with 31.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game, joining Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to average at least 30 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in a single season. James also became the youngest player in NBA history to average at least 30 points per game in a season. During one stretch James scored 35 or more points in nine consecutive games. The only other players since 1970 to accomplish that feat were Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Following the 2005-2006 regular season, James was one of the top candidates for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. He was third in the league in scoring, and a close second in the league in PER behind Dirk Nowitzki. He also finished first among forwards with 6.6 apg and 31.4 ppg. James finished second to Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns in MVP voting.
James was awarded co-MVP honors with Nash by The Sporting News, an award given by that publication based on voting of the thirty General Managers in the league.
On March 29, 2006, the Cavaliers clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 1998. In three years, James had transformed the Cavaliers from a lottery team (17-65 the season before he arrived) into a playoff contender, ending the 2005-2006 season with a 50-32 record, 4th in the Eastern Conference.
On April 22 James made his playoff debut against the Washington Wizards and recorded a triple-double, with 32 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds in the Game 1 victory. He became the third player in NBA history to register a triple-double in his playoff debut, joining Johnny McCarthy (1960) and Magic Johnson (1980). Subsequently, in Game 2, James fell one rebound shy of a second consecutive triple-double in as many games, with 32 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds. On April 28 in Game 3, he became the first player to score over 40 points in his first playoff road game, with 41 in a win over the Wizards. The series sparked controversy on whether or not the referees favor NBA stars like Lebron due to plays where he appeared to commit travelling but were not called. The Cavaliers won the series 4 games to 2, and James tallied 35.7 points per game while shooting 51% from the field. His scoring average is third all-time behind Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for a player's first playoff series.
James led the Cavaliers to a 3-2 series lead over the defending Eastern Conference champion and divisional rival Detroit Pistons, a feat thought to be near impossible, considered the Pistons' strong reputation as a feared defensive as well as offensive team. The Pistons, however, eliminated the Cavs by winning the final two games.
James averaged 30.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and 5.8 apg in his first ever playoff appearance in the NBA.
In 2003 Nike signed Lebron to a $100 million shoe contract. Lebron has also signed endorsement contracts with Bubblicious, Sprite, Powerade, and Upper Deck. In 2005, Nike released a series of advertisements called "Meet the LeBrons", featuring Lebron in four distinct personalities.
TSN NBA Co-MVP: 2006
NBA All-Star Game MVP: 2006
2-time NBA All-Star: 2005, 2006
First Team: 2006
Second Team: 2005
NBA All-Rookie First Team: 2004
NBA Rookie of the Year: 2004
TSN NBA Rookie of the Year: 2004
NBA regular-season leader, field goals made: 2005 (795)
NBA regular-season leader, minutes played: 2005 (3,388)
Career 40+ Point Games (Regular Season): 16 (as of the end of 05-06 season)
Career 50+ Point Games (Regular Season): 3 (as of the end of 05-06 season)
Career 40+ Point Games (Postseason): 2 (as of the end of 05-06 season)
Career triple-doubles (Regular Season): 9 (as of the end of 05-06 season)
Career triple-doubles (Postseason): 2 (as of the end of 05-06 season)
Led the league in traditional three-point plays with (79) in the 2005-06 NBA season
James owns numerous NBA "youngest player" records:
Youngest player in NBA history and the first Cavalier to be named NBA Rookie of the Year, at 19 years of age.
Youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double in his career (20 years, 20 days), with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists on January 19, 2005 vs. the Portland Trail Blazers.
Youngest player in NBA history to score 50 points in one game (20 years, 80 days), with 56 points vs. the Toronto Raptors on March 20, 2005.
Youngest player in NBA history to score 2000 points in a season and average 30 points per game in a season (2005-2006 season).
Youngest player in NBA history to reach:
6,000 points in his career (21 years, 89 days) set on March 29, 2006 vs. the Dallas Mavericks.
7,000 points (21 years, 351 days) vs Orlando Magic December 23rd, 2006
Youngest player in NBA history to win an All-Star Game MVP (21 years, 55 days)
Youngest player in NBA history to be named to the All-NBA first team (21 years, 138 days)
One of only three players in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in his rookie season (joining Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan).
One of only five players in NBA history to average over 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in a season (joining Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek)
One of only four players in NBA history to average at least 30 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in a single season
One of only three players since 1970 to record nine straight games of scoring 35 or more points.
One of only three players in NBA history to record a triple-double in his playoff debut (joining Magic Johnson and Johnny McCarthy).
The first player to score more than 40 points in his first playoff road game, with 41 points in Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Playoffs.
Cavaliers franchise records (10)
Game: 56 (March 20, 2005 vs. Toronto Raptors).
Game, playoffs: 45 (May 3, 2006 vs. Washington Wizards).
Half, playoffs: 25 (1st half, April 30, 2006 vs. Washington Wizards)
Quarter: 21 (4th quarter, April 5, 2006 vs. New York Knicks).
Quarter, playoffs: 18 (1st quarter, April 30, 2006 vs. Washington Wizards).
Season: 2,478 (2005-06)
Scoring average, all-time: 26.5
Scoring average, month: 32.9 (March 2006)
Consecutive games scoring at least 35 points: 9 (March 22–April 8, 2006)
Field goals made
Game: 19 (3 times, most recently April 5, 2006 vs. New York Knicks)