5 career-defining LeBron James moments
At this point of his career, LeBron James is unquestionably the best player of this generation. With numerous league MVP’s, a plethora of NBA championships and Finals MVP’s, and a boatload of other accolades, James has etched himself as one of the greatest to ever play the game. It’s hard to narrow down, but these are LeBron James greatest moments.
It goes without saying, LeBron has accomplished a lot since he came to the NBA as a 17-year old kid from Akron, Ohio. With that said, let’s look back on some of the moments that stood out from LeBron James’ Hall of Fame career.
LeBron James Greatest Moments
Game 5 Masterclass versus the Pistons
LeBron James’ masterclass performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons became his coming out party in the NBA.
In 2007, James was just a 22-year old on the rise to superstardom. The 2006-07 Cavaliers made the playoffs for the second time in the LeBron era, finishing as the no. 2 seed in the East. After getting past the first two rounds, they set up a rematch against the Pistons, the team that eliminated them in the previous year’s playoffs.
After splitting the first four games with each team winning on their home floor, the Cavaliers needed to win in Detroit to win the series. In the pivotal Game 5, James gave one of the greatest playoff performances in recent memory.
James finished with 48 points, including 29 of Cleveland’s last 30 points, to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists. He also scored the game-winning layup in double overtime to lead the Cavs to the 109-107 victory to take a 3-2 series lead. James brought out the entire repertoire, from hard drives to the basket, to pull-up jumpers, to turnarounds, and clutch 3-pointers. He was in a complete zone and the Pistons couldn’t do anything to stop him or slow him down.
Steve Kerr, who was on commentary at the time, called it a “Jordan-esque” performance. And certainly, it was.
The entire NBA held their breath while waiting for the biggest domino to fall with LeBron James making his free agency decision in the summer of 2010. Years of postseason frustrations in Cleveland certainly took its toll on The King. Many speculated he would he leave the Cavaliers for greener pastures after another disappointing playoff run in 2010.
Several teams wanted to pry away The King from Cleveland, while the Cavaliers obviously wanted to keep their franchise superstar, who was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. As free agency loomed, James and his team explored the idea of airing his decision live on air. On July 8, ESPN aired the 75-minute special “The Decision” where James would make his league-altering announcement:
“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.”
James teamed up with his buddies Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat. The program garnered high ratings. However, James also drew a ton of criticism for the way he left the Cavaliers. Through the course of history, however, many believe that “The Decision” is the point that ushered in the player empowerment era in the NBA. Nevertheless, let’s continue looking at LeBron James greatest moments.
Game 6 virtuoso versus Celtics
In his first season with the Heat, James reached the NBA Finals. However, Miami came up short against the Cinderella 2011 Dallas Mavericks squad. LeBron also drew a lot of criticism for how he performed in the 2011 Finals.
In 2012, a motivated James led the Heat to the second best record in the East and won the 2011-12 MVP award. In the Eastern Conference Finals, The King faced a familiar foe in the Boston Celtics. With the series tied 2-2, Miami squandered their homecourt advantage and lost to the Celtics in Game 5.
Criticism for LeBron James grew as loud as it could get. With Game 6 set in Boston, many thought James would fail again in his quest for his first ring. However, The King blocked out all the noise in the elimination game and turned in one of the greatest playoff performances in NBA history to keep Miami’s title hopes alive. James, much like he did against the Pistons in 2007, put the team on his back with 45 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists, while shooting 73.1 percent from the field. He virtually converted everything he threw up to the hoop and the Celtics defense could not do anything to stop him.
The Heat eventually won the series in Game 7. But his mission to get his first ring wasn’t done just yet.
“It’s about damn time”
Miami eventually faced the Oklahoma City Thunder, which entered the 2012 Finals with homecourt advantage. The Heat dropped Game 1 in Oklahoma City after Kevin Durant took over in the fourth quarter. Again, chatter began to circulate about how James
But LeBron and the Heat locked in the rest of the series. Games 2 to 4 were close, but Miami pulled through in the end of those games. In Game 5, however, Miami dominated and blew the Thunder out in the title-clincher to win their second title in franchise history. And finally, The King took his place at the top of the basketball world.
LeBron James notched a triple-double in Game 5 with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. Through the series, he also averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists en route to his first Finals MVP.
Many would remember James jumping for joy as the dream of a championship would soon become a reality. Of course, everyone remembers him saying “It’s about damn time” when asked about his first thoughts when the clock hit triple-zeroes.
“Cleveland, this is for you!”
This is undoubtedly the greatest accomplishment of LeBron James’ career.
After winning two titles in four years in Miami, James returned to the Cavaliers with one mission: to bring a championship to Cleveland. LeBron failed to do so in his first season back in Ohio, losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the 2015 Finals.
In the 2015-16 season, the Warriors steam-rolled through the league and set an NBA record, 73 wins. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, finished with the best record in the East. While there were some bumps and bruises along the way, the two teams met in a rematch of the previous year’s Finals.
The Warriors appeared to be well on their way to capping off their magical season by winning their second straight championship when they went up 3-1 and with Game 5 in Golden State. However, the Cavaliers stayed alive by winning Game 5 and blowing out the Warriors in Game 6. This set the stage for a historic Game 7 at the Bay Area.
With homecourt advantage in Game 7, many still favored the Warriors to take home the crown. The game proved to be an instant classic as both teams fought with everything they had. With under two minutes left and the game knotted at 89, LeBron James delivered one of the greatest defensive stops in NBA Finals history with a remarkable chase down block on Andre Iguodala on a fastbreak layup.
A couple of possessions later, Kyrie Irving broke the tie with a unbelievably clutch three-pointer over Stephen Curry. Irving’s triple proved to be the title-clincher as the Cavaliers held on in the final minute, thanks to an impressive defensive stop by Kevin Love on Curry, to win their first title in franchise history.
As soon as the buzzer sounded, LeBron James couldn’t help but break down in tears. The hometown hero had done it. And as the Akron-native shouted at the top of his lungs: “Cleveland! This is for you!” Still, with gas left in the tank, there’s LeBron James greatest moments is a list that’s forever growing.