|Born:|| December 30, 1984|
|Height:||6 feet 8 inches|
|NBA Team:||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Pro career:||3rd season|
At 6 feet 8 inches and weighing in at 245 pounds (240 lbs when he was first drafted ), James is one of the most gifted and versatile players in the NBA. Although he primarily plays the small forward position, he is capable of playing point guard and shooting guard as well. His incredible court vision, passing skills and willingness to share the ball has led many to compare him with the great Magic Johnson. His athleticism and scoring ability have been compared to Michael Jordan. However, because of LeBron's ability to pass, rebound, and score, a more accurate comparison might be Oscar Robertson, but it is hard to compare any NBA players from different eras, especially in the era of salary caps, revenue sharing, and lesser wages. Despite his young career, his combination of size, strength, talent, and athleticism have many people predicting he will become one of the greatest players of all time.
In LeBron's freshman year at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio he was the starting point guard on a team lead by senior Maverick Carter, James's cousin and future agent. The team steamrolled any and all competition to a 27-0 record and LeBron's first state championship.
He averaged 27.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 4 steals as a sophomore for SVSM en route to another state title and was subsequently named Ohio's "Mr. Basketball" as well as picked to the USA Today All-USA First Team—the first sophomore to be honored with such a nomination.
An avid football player in addition to basketball, LeBron was also able to add to his resume the distinction of being First-Team All-State as a wide receiver for his high school team. However James decided to concentrate his talents in basketball and in James's junior year, he averaged 29.7 points and 8.4 rebounds and was once again named Mr. Basketball Ohio in addition to his spot on the All-USA First Team. It was then that his nickname "King" James would become a household staple.
However, St. Vincent-St. Mary failed to defend its title as it moved up to the more-challenging Division II. LeBron then attempted to declare for the NBA draft, petitioning for an adjustment to the rule stating that a player must finish high school in order to be eligible. The petition was unsuccessful, but it led to an unprecedented level of attention on him as the talent entered his senior year. By then "King" James had already appeared on the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. His popularity soared to new heights as his team had to move from playing in the school gym to nearby Rhodes Arena at the University of Akron. Celebrities such as Shaquille O'Neal attended some of the games, hoping to get a glimpse of the prodigious young basketball player. A few of James's high school games were even televised nationally on ESPN2 and on pay-per-view.
Gloria James touched off a firestorm of controversy when she was allowed to use her son's future earning power as collateral to secure a bank loan to buy an $80,000 Hummer H2 for her son's 18th birthday, prompting an investigation by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA). Under the OHSAA guidelines, no amateur may accept any gift valued over $100 as a reward for athletic performance. When James later accepted two throwback basketball jerseys from NEXT, an urban clothing store in Shaker Square, worth $845 in exchange for his posing for pictures to be displayed on the store's walls, OHSAA stripped him of his eligibility. James appealed and a judge blocked the ruling, reducing the penalty to a two-game suspension and allowing him to play the remainder of the season. However, James's team was forced to forfeit one of their wins as a result.
Despite the distractions, St. Vincent-St. Mary won a third state title, and James, for an unprecedented third time, was named Mr. Basketball Ohio and to the All-USA First Team. He also earned MVP honors at the McDonald's All-American Game, the EA Sports Roundball Classic, and the Jordan Capital Classic. Although it was a foregone conclusion, by participating in more than two high school all-star events, LeBron legally lost his NCAA eligibility.
James was selected the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Because of such public interest surrounding LeBron and his immense basketball abilities, James quickly became one of the most hyped players in all of professional sports. Even before James had even played a single NBA game, Nike awarded LeBron with an unprecedented $90 million dollar exclusive shoe contract and promptly began an aggressive advertising campaign to hail him as the next big thing in all of professional sports. James would not disappoint marketers and fans alike, as he went on to win Rookie of the Year honors in a season where he averaged 20.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game, joining Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only three players to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in a rookie season. The Cavaliers, however, although improved, would not make the playoffs.
In the offseason, James played for Team USA in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece where he and his teammates won the bronze medal in mens' basketball and returned for his sophomore season in the NBA with refined skills. In that season James became the youngest player to achieve a triple double (double digits in 3 positive categories like points,assist, rebounds) and the youngest player to score 50 points in one game (56 pts in a loss to the Toronto Raptors). After joining a select group of players to average 25+ points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds in a season (together with Bird, Jordan and Oscar Robertson), James saw his Cavs fail again to go reach the playoffs, collapsing from at one point being 10 games over .500. In the offseason James hoped Michael Redd would join the team, trying to persuade him with a video. Redd decided to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks. Seattle's Ray Allen also chose to stay with his team rather than play behind LeBron in Cleveland. The Cavaliers were able to make a few off-season moves, with the addition of Larry Hughes (from the Washington Wizards), Damon Jones (from the Miami Heat) and Donyell Marshall (from the Toronto Raptors). The organization also underwent substantial management changes at this time. Long-time owner Gordon Gund sold the franchise to Dan Gilbert, who subequently replaced General Manager Jim Paxson with Danny Ferry, and brought in Mike Brown as the new head coach.
On November 13, 2005, LeBron James became the youngest player in NBA history to score 4,000 career points, in a 108-100 overtime win over the Orlando Magic. James's age of 20 years and 318 days replaced Kobe Bryant's 21 years and 216 days in the record book. Due to the NBA's new age-requirement rules, it is unlikely that this record, or any of James's other "youngest-ever" records, will be broken.
On December 30, 2005, LeBron James turned 21 years old. At this point in his NBA career, he had 7,629 minutes; 4,649 points; 1,187 rebounds; and 1,191 assists, all NBA record-highs for any NBA player by the age of 21.
- Jones, Ryan: King James: Believe the Hype, St. Martin's Griffin 2003. ISBN 0312322291
- Morgan, David Lee: LeBron James: The Rise of a Star, Gray & Company Publishers 2003. ISBN 1886228744
- Official site
- LeBron James bio @ NBA.com
- KING JAMES: Starring LeBron James
- Template:Espn nba
- LeBron James at the Internet Movie Database
- LeBron James Open-Content Info, News and Views at BlinkBits
- The LeBron Phenomenonde:LeBron James