LeBron James is a rare talent. From the moment he started playing basketball, it was obvious that he was special. Those who have followed his career are lucky to have been able to enjoy the kind of athlete that transcends his sport. Very few professional athletes have been the face of their sport like LeBron has. Babe Ruth, Tom Brady, and Wayne Gretzky are a few professional athletes who've dominated their sport as LeBron has with his. Of course, we can’t forget Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain who are perhaps the most accomplished basketball players in history. However, when the curtain goes down on King James’ illustrious career, he will likely be mentioned in the same breath.
The most recent example of LeBron’s skill, leadership, and motivation to win came in the 2016 NBA Finals when he led his Cleveland Cavaliers in overcoming a 3-1 series deficit against the mighty Golden State Warriors. The astonishing comeback marked just the 11th time in NBA history that a team has rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win a series and LeBron played a crucial role. He made some key blocks, remarkable rebounds, and drained shots when it was needed most. His efforts earned him his third NBA championship, as well as his third NBA Finals MVP.
His storied career is far from over and fans can count on him to continue making history. Basketball fans should sit back and enjoy the show as King James works his magic on the hardwood. Grab yourself some popcorn and check out these top 15 insane real life stories of LeBron James.
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15 A Scoring Machine
It will probably come as no surprise that LeBron James is the Cavaliers’ all-time scoring leader. The 18,914 regular season points he has scored while wearing a Cavs jersey far surpasses Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ second best total of 10,616. He has done all of this in just nine seasons.
As far as his NBA career totals are concerned, LeBron is currently ranked 13th in all-time career scoring with 26,833 points. He is on pace to move up a spot or two by the end of next season. He also has a legitimate shot at surpassing Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant before he is done. Of course, he will need to stay healthy but that has never really been an issue for King James. He has been one of the most enduring players ever and seldom misses a game. He has played through many injuries which further bolsters his reputation as a competitor.
14 The Decision
When LeBron became a free agent in 2010, the fanfare surrounding his future was perhaps one of the biggest sideshows the sports world has ever seen. While there was a lot of speculation that he was going to sign with the Miami Heat, his destination was up in the air and there were several teams interested in his services. Aside from the front-running Heat, the Bulls, Clippers, Knicks, Nets, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were all on the radar.
On July 8th, ESPN aired a live special entitled The Decision which was used as LeBron’s platform to announce that he was going to sign with Miami. This circus drew condemnation from the sporting world and made King James public enemy number one in Cleveland. Cavs fans took to the streets and burned their LeBron memorabilia. He is still criticized for the way he handled himself during this time, but it’s safe to say that Cleveland has forgiven him.
13 High Expectations
As a freshman at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in Akron, LeBron James tore it up on the hardwood. He led his team to a 27-0 record and a state championship. By the time he entered his sophomore year, he was already being touted as an NBA superstar. Many people wanted to see the young prodigy play. In fact, there was so much demand for tickets that The Fighting Irish moved several of their home games to the University of Akron’s Rhodes Arena which had 5,492 seats. He led The Fighting Irish to a 26-1 record and another state championship. Leading teams to championships is LeBron’s forte.
His days at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s earned him several distinctions including being named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball and being selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team. He received both of these honors an unprecedented three years in a row. He was the first sophomore to win either of these awards.
12 Getting High
Like many high school kids, LeBron James enjoyed hanging out with his friends and partying a bit. Who could blame a young man in his situation for wanting to blow off a little steam? Unlike most high school kids, he was constantly under the media spotlight, mobbed by fans, and hassled by hangers-on. This unrelenting pressure became a little too much for the up-and-coming superstar. Perhaps emulating football misfit Ricky Williams’ method of dealing with social anxiety, he began to smoke pot to help deal with the daily circus.
While marijuana isn't the more terrible problem, it is still something that he doesn’t seem to be particularly proud of.
Despite this mild indiscretion that is typical of so many teens these days, LeBron made it through high school and turned out just fine. It was just a phase that he appears to have quickly grown out of.
11 Football Talent
Tom Brady, Troy Aikman, and John Elway are three of several athletes that could have easily been baseball players. Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders actually played in two professional sports leagues. It’s not uncommon for professional athletes to excel in more than one sport and LeBron James is no different. There was no doubt that basketball was in his future, but he was also a talented football player. He was a wide receiver for St. Vincent-St. Mary’s high school and was good enough to get scouted by Urban Meyer and The Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Many in the football world believe that he could have had a career in the NFL. Could he have done for the Browns what he did for the Cavs? Well, let’s not get carried away.
LeBron loves his life of luxury. He has made enough money to last several lifetimes and he stands to make millions more before his playing days are over. People might not realize that LeBron has a generous heart and has donated a great deal of money to various charities and causes. One thing that is almost never mentioned about The Decision is that it was broadcast from the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Connecticut, and the event raised over $2.5 million for the charity. It also raised another $3.5 million that was distributed among other charities. He is also a staunch supporter of the Children’s Defense Fund, ONEXONE, and his own LeBron James Family Foundation which holds an annual bike-a-thon to raise money for local charities. He teamed up with the University of Akron to give scholarships to 2,300 kids beginning in 2021. He has touched many lives in a most positive way.
9 Car Collection
To say that LeBron James is a car enthusiast would be a huge understatement. He may have a severe addiction to “new car smell” judging by the number of cars he has. King James’ stable of whips is one to behold and might only be rivaled by the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Jay Leno. Porsches, Hummers, Jeeps, and brand new Dodge Challengers are some of the cheaper cars you can find parked in his garage. Maybachs, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris are also found there. He has some classic cars, luxury cars, sports cars, and off-road cars.
The KIA in his driveway must be his friend's car. What? The KIA also belongs to LeBron? He doesn’t just have a car for every day of the week; he has one for every day of the month. The dealership must love seeing LeBron enter the showroom. His valet might see things a little differently.
Basketball fans who watched the 2016 NBA finals between Golden State and Cleveland witnessed just how much of a game changer LeBron James is. Many people say that his stellar performance in game 7 was the most dominating of his career, but they would be forgetting about game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons. He scored 48 points in that pivotal game, but even more amazing was that he scored 25 straight points. The historic run began in the fourth quarter with a two-pointer from 17 feet out and ran through two overtime frames. It ended with a two-pointer that gave Cleveland a two point lead with just 2.2 seconds left in double overtime.The Cavs held on to take a 3-2 series lead. LeBron and company would go on to eliminate The Pistons in game 6 and move on to the finals. That’s pure domination.
Some people might be jealous of the obscene wealth that LeBron has accumulated in his basketball career. His sprawling mansions and collection of expensive toys are more than most could ever dream of having. We need to remind ourselves that it hasn’t always been that way. LeBron’s mother was just 16-years-old when she gave birth to LeBron and his childhood was spent in poverty. He did not know who his father was and the man he referred to as his dad was in jail. His mother held low-paying jobs and was often on welfare. She could not afford to raise him. He was forced to live a nomadic existence, often flopping on couches in crowded houses that lacked heat. It wasn’t until LeBron was nine that his life gained stability when a youth football coach, Bruce Kelker, took LeBron under his wing. Kelker became an influential figure in the young boy’s life and set LeBron on the path to athletic stardom.
6 Living in Style
In 2003, a suddenly wealthy LeBron bought himself a nice piece of property about 20 miles south of Cleveland on which he built his first house. Well, using the word “house” is putting it mildly. It could more fittingly be described as a pleasure palace. Situated on a 5.6-acre parcel of land, he spared no expense in building his 35,400 square foot digs. Among the sprawling mansion’s amenities were a theater, a bowling alley, a barbershop, and a whopping 11 bedrooms. The master bedroom had a 2-storey walk-in closet and, to top it off, LeBron also had a full-blown casino installed. He’d come a long way from his impoverished childhood.
After signing with the Miami Heat, LeBron bought a regal mansion overlooking Biscayne Bay. It was every bit as luxurious as one could imagine. He recently sold his Miami estate and made a cool $13.4 million in the process.
5 Outrageous Paychecks
LeBron knows how to maximize his earnings. Instead of signing long-term NBA contracts, he prefers to sign short-term deals to ensure he can capitalize on the current market. This strategy has resulted in him almost always being among the highest paid players in the NBA. On top of his player salary and performance bonuses, LeBron is also raking it in with his many endorsement deals.
His player salary in 2016 was nearly $23 million which was the third highest contract in the NBA. But his earnings didn’t end there. An additional $54 million in endorsements saw his 2016 earning reach a staggering $77 million making one of the highest paid athletes in the world.
LeBron’s player salary has paid him over $193 million over his career. Add in the endorsements and it is estimated that LeBron has made over $400 million. With lifetime endorsement deals in hand and several seasons of basketball left, it is possible that LeBron could reach his goal of becoming a billionaire.
4 Sports Illustrated
There are many established star athletes who dream of being on the cover of the iconic Sports Illustrated magazine. It is a sure sign that they have hit the big time. For most of them, it will not happen, but LeBron James has graced the magazine’s cover 25 times and is a shoe-in to do it again. The mind-blowing fact about his Sports Illustrated debut is that he was still just a 17-year-old junior in high school. Not even Michael Jordan can boast this incredible distinction.
This SI appearance marked the first time that an underclass high school basketball player had ever done so. The hype surrounding a young LeBron was definitely electrifying and he has lived up to it. That 2002 issue has become a much sought after collector’s item that has fetched several hundreds of dollars.
3 He’s a Winner
LeBron James and championships seem to go hand-in-hand. King James has led his teams to championships everywhere he’s played. While playing high school basketball at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, James led the Fighting Irish to back-to-back state championships. As a professional in the NBA, James fell short of winning a title in his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers but he redeemed himself when led the Cavs to a championship in 2016. After signing with the Miami Heat in 2010, LeBron helped his powerhouse team to reach the finals in four consecutive seasons in which they netted two straight NBA Championships. A statistic like this goes a long way in justifying the massive salary that King James commands. He isn’t just a regular season sensation, he knows how to bring it in the post-season.
When you want to get rid of ghosts, you call Ghostbusters. When you want to win a championship, you call LeBron James.
2 A Bit Of A Jerk
LeBron has had his share of detractors. You don’t have to look much further that ihatelebronjames.com to see that not everyone is a LeBron fan. Some of the criticism he has faced comes out of pure spite and jealousy, but even LeBron himself admits that some of it is well-founded. He has some regrets over the way he handled his 2010 free agency announcement and has said that he would likely do things differently if he could do it all over again. He also readily admits that he was a “big-headed jerk” in his high schools days. “I was arrogant in dubbing myself ‘The Chosen One’” James once stated in an interview. He goes on to explain that he should have just kept quiet. Even though he lays partial blame on the adults that fuelled his ego and failed to reign him in, he readily accepts his own contributions to his unflattering reputation.
1 Other Insanely Big Numbers
Scoring 40 points in a single game is a tough feat to accomplish but LeBron has done this 55 times in his career during regular season play. He has also done it 15 times in the playoffs prior to this past championship run. He has been named league MVP four times and will undoubtedly be in the running in the years to come. He needs just two more league MVPs to match Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s six career MVPs. He has made 12 consecutive appearances as an NBA All-Star which places him in some very elite company. There is little doubt that he will be playing in his 13th straight in 2017. In short, basketball fans should relish the opportunity to watch one of the greatest basketball players of all time while they still can. He will continue to add to his record-setting legacy as he continues to play at a high level.
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