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NBA - US Sports: LeBron James in profile

03 July 2022 07:01:00 EST
LeBron James is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats of the NBA

LeBron James is preparing for his 20th season in the NBA and when he does eventually call time on his career will go down as one of the greatest ever to play the game.

James is a four-time champion, four-time MVP, four-time Finals MVP and an 18-time All-Star.

The 37-year-old forward is on course to break or match more records next season and may well become the leading scorer in the history of the NBA in 2022-23.

James is 1,325 points behind current record holder Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who scored 38,387 points over the course of his career with Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Las season, James scored 1,697 points in 56 games for the Lakers so if can remain injury free he should be able to move ahead of Abdul-Jabbar.

James can also tie with the former Bucks and Lakers star in terms of All-Star appearances if he receives a 19th successive selection in 2023, and we've taken a look at the career of a man who many consider the best basketball player of all-time.

High school star to hometown hero

James played for St. Vincent-St. Mary varsity basketball team during high school and was twice named Ohio Mr. Basketball, as early on it became clear he was destined for superstardom.

During his junior year, James appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, becoming the first high school basketball underclassman to do so, and unsuccessfully petitioned for a change to the NBA's draft eligibility rules in a bid to enter the NBA Draft in 2002.

James went straight from high school into the 2003 NBA Draft, a move that is known as prep-to-pro and which has been prohibited since 2005, and was selected with the first overall pick by hometown team Cleveland Cavaliers.

Rookie of the Year to MVP

On his Cavs debut, James scored 25 points against Sacramento Kings and set a new record for most points scored by a prep-to-pro player on his debut.

He finished the season with averages of 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per-game and won the Rookie of the Year award.

The following year, James earned his first All-Star selection and set Cleveland's new single-game points record with 56 points against Toronto Raptors, but the Cavs again missed out on the playoffs.

James' first season was his breakout campaign, but his third season was the year when he really established himself as a superstar.

In the 2006 All-Star Game he led the East to victory with 29 points and won the All-Star Game MVP award, he starred as Cleveland qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1998 and finished second in the MVP voting, behind Steve Nash.

In the 2006-07 season the Cavs won the Eastern Conference championship for the first time but lost out 4-0 to San Antonio Spurs in the Finals.

That was as close as James would come to a championship in his first stint with the Cavs, but in 2009 he was named MVP for the first time and went on to win the award in back-to-back seasons.

The Decision and a move to Miami

After seven seasons with Cleveland, James became an unrestricted free agent in July 2010 and he announced on an ESPN special entitled The Decision that he would sign with Miami Heat.

James formed a Big Three with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami and during this period the team enjoyed sustained success.

James won his first championship with the Heat in 2012 and claimed the Finals MVP award. The Ohio-native repeated that feat the following year, and won the regular season MVP award in both of those campaigns too.

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Ending Cleveland's championship wait

After four seasons with Miami, James returned to Cleveland in 2014 and the Cavs went on to reach the Finals in each of the following four seasons.

The Cavs faced Golden State Warriors in all of those years and managed to win the title once, in 2015-16 - securing their first ever title and ending the 'Cleveland Curse' by winning the city's first professional sports title in 52 years.

The Cavs also became the first team to come back and win after trailing 3-1 in a Finals series.

Another title in LA

James spent four seasons with Cleveland in his second stint before making the move to Los Angeles Lakers in 2018.

He became a four-time NBA champion in 2020 by helping the Lakers win the title, and became the first player in NBA history to record at least 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, and 10,000 assists.

James will remain with the Lakers in 2022/23 and it remains to be seen just how much longer he continues his NBA career, but he could opt to join a new team in 2023 as he continues to break records.

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