You know that you are getting old when you are shocked, almost perplexed that someone far younger than you is already 30-years-old. Like the older aunt or uncle who squeezes the cheeks of their nieces and nephews, it is hard not to stand back and admire the way that the younger generation has grown so much.
Believe it or not, LeBron James is now 30-years-old. I still remember the first time I watched him play on ESPN, when he was still a high school student in Akron, Ohio. But Boy Wonder is no longer a boy. LeBron’s hairline alone suggests that he has already gone through a lot in life. LeBron is now a man. And he has been one for quite some time.
So, before fans of the NBA fail to appreciate the King’s greatness, while he is still at the peak of his game in the NBA, it is never too early to reflect on what he has already accomplished. The NBA will never see another player like LeBron. For starters, it is because high school players are no longer allowed to enter into the draft. Now, everyone must be at least one year removed from high school. And that number may go up to two years soon. When LeBron played his first game in the NBA, it was the summer after he graduated from high school. Just think about that for a moment. LeBron was barely old enough to drive when he entered the NBA.
The other thing that makes LeBron so phenomenal was just how physically prepared he was for the NBA. While most high schoolers are dealing with puberty issues, LeBron was already a man. In fact, he was probably ready for the NBA as a sophomore or a junior in high school. From a very early age, it was evident that LeBron was unlike any other creature on the planet. He was always a man amongst boys in high school, and to be honest, it was no different in the NBA.
10 Sports Illustrated Cover
LeBron decorated the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2002 as a 17-year-old high school phenom. The cover title was “The Chosen One” and he wasn’t even a senior yet. He was still a junior. Below the main title was a subtitle, which read, “High school junior LeBron James would be an NBA lottery pick right now.” Unlike all of the other high schoolers that got hype (aka Sebastian Telfair) before they accomplished a thing in the NBA, LeBron was a sure fire thing. Thirteen years later, all of the prophecies about LeBron have come true. He was the fulfillment of everything Sports Illustrated claimed 11-years ago.
9 Drafted No. 1 in 2003
It was a story right out of a fairy tale book when the homegrown Akron native was selected with the number one pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers landing the number one pick in the year that LeBron happened to be entering into the draft, was almost like a grand conspiracy plotted by former Commissioner David Stern, but we won’t go there. The more important thing was that LeBron was drafted by a city and a franchise that was in desperate need of a winning culture. The city of Cleveland has had a loser’s mentality for decades, but LeBron changed the entire vibe of the city when he came. He was going to be Cleveland’s Savior. It was just a matter of time. Or so we thought.
8 Flirts With Triple Double in First Pro Game
On October 29th, 2003, LeBron finally made his debut in the NBA against the Sacramento Kings. It was only fitting that the King was going to play against the Sacramento Kings, but there could only be one king of the court that night, and it was the phenom rookie. LeBron busted onto the NBA scene with 25 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds in his first professional game. Right from the get-go, LeBron demonstrated to everyone that he belonged and that he was going to be the new face of the NBA.
7 Rookie of the Year
During LeBron’s rookie season, the King averaged 20.9 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 5.9 assists per game. From the get-go, LeBron was a very well balanced player without many weaknesses. The Cavs finished with a record of 35-47 after LeBron’s first year and failed to make the playoffs, but the dark clouds over Cleveland were lifting and the future looked bright because they had a star in LeBron. LeBron was no fluke, nor was he someone that was handed the Rookie of the Year award because there was no one else to give it to, like last year. LeBron was in one of the best drafts in recent history with the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, yet he still came out on top.
6 2008 Redeem Team
After rotting on the bench in 2004 because Larry Brown refused to play him in the Olympics, LeBron was on a mission to bring back the gold for America, and he was going to do it his way. LeBron, Melo, and Wade were subjugated to the bench in 2004, but in 2008, they made their presence known. After finishing with the Bronze medal in 2004, the Redeem Team made sure that the only type of medal that they were going to take was the gold medal.
5 The Decision
On July 8th, 2010 LeBron made one of the biggest decisions in all of sports history. For that brief hour, the world stopped spinning. It was the day that LeBron would announce what he would do now that he was a free agent. And The Decision didn’t fail to disappoint media headlines because it was the day that LeBron announced that he would be taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. In utter disbelief and shock, Cavs fans burned LeBron’s jersey and elevated him to public enemy number one. This was by far the worst decision that LeBron had ever made up to this point in his career, however, it was through this fiery furnace that LeBron maturated and went on to become the champion that he became.
4 Triple Double Performance in First NBA Title
After losing in the Finals in 2011, LeBron redeemed his Decision to come to Miami by helping the Heat win their first title in 2012 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. LeBron had 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals and was clearly a man on a mission with something to prove. During those Finals, LeBron averaged 28.6 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game, and 7.4 assists per game en route to his first Finals MVP, which would cement his legacy forever.
3 Scoring More Points Than Anyone By The Age of 30
LeBron James has now scored more points than anybody in NBA history by the age of 30. Just think about that for a moment. LeBron has now scored over 23,000 points over his illustrious 11-year career. By the time LeBron is done with his career, it is certainly conceivable that he can finish in the top-3 in scoring ahead of Kobe Bryant. What may be even more remarkable about this statistic is that LeBron has always been more of a pass first type of player than a shoot first type of player, and yet, he will still go down as one of the best scorers of all-time.
2 Back-to-Back NBA Champion and Finals MVP
In what is possibly considered one of the best NBA Finals in history, the Miami Heat were miraculously able to win their second title in a row by beating the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were up by 6 with less than one minute to go in Game 6, but a Ray Allen 3-pointer sent the game into overtime, which the Heat eventually were able to take advantage of. This sent the series to a Game 7, which LeBron was going to take by the horns, in order to ensure that his legacy was set in place as a Finals MVP for the second year in a row.
1 The Letter
After the Decision, LeBron turned from a hero to a villain, but he reversed his public persona over night with “The Letter.” After LeBron’s four-year contract in Miami was finished, he became a free agent again. Many assumed that he would resign with the Miami Heat. After all, he had just gone to the Finals our years in a row and won two out of them. However, LeBron shocked the world with “The Letter.” In the Letter, he announced that he was going to come back home to Cleveland. It was the perfect story of redemption, and the city of Cleveland was now ready to reconcile and forgive their King.