LeBron James: Paying Homage to the Unstoppable Legend
Earlier this week, LeBron James was in imperious form once again as the LA Lakers put the beat down on the Golden State Warriors. That victory is scant revenge for the 3 playoff defeats that the Warriors have inflicted on James’ teams in the past, but it was a warning to the rest of the league.
In that victory, LeBron and the Lakers showed that they are serious about retaining their NBA Championship and a solid bet to do just that. In this article, we pay honor to James by looking back at 5 of the most defining moments of his career.
“The Chosen One”
In 2002 a 17-year-old LeBron James arrived at 8am to a photo shoot with Sports Illustrated that would go on to have a huge impact on his career. It was Michael J. LeBrecht’s first time taking the photos for a Sports Illustrated cover and to say he was skeptical is an understatement.
LeBrecht knew that the photos he took that day would be featured on the cover of his magazine with the words “The Chosen One”. At the time, LeBron James’ potential in basketball was clear for all to see, but no one could say for sure whether he would go on to realize that potential – LeBrecht feared the pressure could cripple the young star.
The Sports Illustrated cover heaped the pressure on a young James, but he used the weight of that pressure as a driving force in his early career. The pressure of being labelled as the next big thing had proved too much for previous teen prodigies such as Schea Cotton and Felipe Lopez, but there was no stopping LeBron.
The All-Star instead went on to exceed the lofty expectations of Sports Illustrated and cement himself as one of the greatest players in NBA history. The story made its mark on LeBron physically too, with the star having the phrase “Chosen 1” tattooed across his back in bold lettering.
LeBron started his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers but missed out on the playoffs in his first two seasons with the team. In his third season however, the Cavs won 50 games, earning the fourth seed in the East division, remaining an outside bet for the Championship.
He had earned his first NBA All-Star game the previous season, but it was his playoff debut that really began to cement his reputation in the game. In the Cavs first game against the Washington Wizards, James became only the third player in NBA history to record a triple-double on his playoff debut.
Despite not winning the Championship that year, James showed the world that he was ready to step up and be counted when the heat was on.
Beating the Celtics
There always seems to be that one team that is kryptonite to a great player, for Michael Jordan it was the Detroit Pistons and for LeBron James it was the Boston Celtics.
Boston sent James and the Cavs packing in seven games in 2008 and six games in 2010, before King James finally got the upper hand in 2011.
Over five games, James was sensational, scoring 33 points in the close-out game to finally shake off his Celtics hoodoo. The NBA Championship, however, would have to wait for James.
2012: Bouncing Back
It’s easy to look back on that victory over the Celtics in the 2011 playoffs and pinpoint it as a moment of emotional exhaustion for James in that season. After coming out on top against the Celtics, James’ performances dropped in the remainder of the playoffs and his side ended up losing out on the Championship.
In 2012 however, James came back with a steely resolve to put those disappointments behind him and make a statement. He was the MVP that season, averaging 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals as he dragged Miami Heat to NBA Championship glory.
2020: Legacy Cemented
After winning the MVP in 2012, LeBron would go on to scoop the award twice more in the 2013 and 2016 seasons, winning the NBA Championship in both seasons.
That was the golden era of James’ career as everything he touched seemed to turn to gold, but between 2016 and 2019 questions began to be raised about his longevity and legacy.
In 2020 he answered doubters firmly with the riposte of a near perfect MVP season, culminating in a fourth NBA Championship.
In that season, LeBron showed his adaptability as the Lakers placed less emphasis on 3-point shooting than their rivals and instead focused on their defense and playing with a real determination and discipline.
Of course, LeBron was his usual sensational self throughout the season winning games single-handedly, but in 2020 he showed a degree of resoluteness and adaptability that marked him out as one of the greatest to have ever played the game.
Insane natural talent coupled with extreme mental strength are two of the staples of any great sports player and James showed last season that he has both of those qualities in abundance.
We’ll perhaps see more of this reserved side of James’ game as his career enters its twilight, and we should savor it as we are truly witnessing a great of the game in action.
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