You could sit for hours on end and debate whether LeBron James or Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.
There is evidence to push the discussion either way, but the level-headed are content with the notion that we have been fortunate to enjoy both in our lifetimes.
When you look back at the career of ‘King James’, it’s the kind of highlight reel that only mere mortals can only dream of.
And while LeBron will go again in 2020 after an injury-hit campaign this time around, there is still time for him to add to the list. But in the meantime, here’s five of the best moments from LeBron James’ career to date.
5. Teenage Dreams
All good stories start at the beginning, and right from the get-go, LeBron was an unbelievable basketball player.
An excellent college career saw him called up by his hometown team the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he scored 25 points against the Sacramento Kings on debut – the highest point haul by a prep-to-pro player in NBA history.
But better was yet to come when James, having turned 19, started a regular season game against the New Jersey Nets.
The King became the youngest player in NBA history to record a 40-point match, a performance which also included thirteen assists and six rebounds.
Unsurprisingly, LeBron won the Rookie of the Year prize in a stellar first campaign.
4. On The Buzzer
Back in 2009, LeBron was just coming to the end of his first spell at the Cavaliers.
It was a productive spell for him personally, but the Cavs could never quite translate that into success in play-off matches and Championship finals.
They looked best placed to do back in that 2008/09 season, when they stormed to the Central Division title by a margin of 25 wins.
Inspired by James, the Cavs would blitz Detroit and Atlanta early on in the play-offs before running into Orlando Magic in the Conference Finals.
The Magic had won the first game (James scoring 49 points in a 106-107 defeat), and the two teams could barely be separated in the second, with Orlando leading 95-93 as the hooter sounded.
The ball was fed into James at the top of the circle, he pivoted and did what LeBron does best: landed the three-pointer with literally zero seconds left to win the game and level the series.
It’s pure theater, and a feat only a few players with that special ‘X Factor’ are capable of.
3. From MSG To MVP
In that 2009 season, LeBron won the first of his four MVP crowns in the NBA despite the Cavs coming up short in their pursuit of the sport’s biggest prize.
The title went his way thanks to an unbelievable campaign with the Cavs, but there was one special night in particular where James showed he was a king yet to be anointed.
In late January of that year, Kobe Bryant scored 61 points at Madison Square Garden as the LA Lakers defeated the New York Knicks – a then scoring record at one of the sport’s most iconic venues.
Step forward LeBron just two days later. While he couldn’t match Bryant’s scoring power, he still went on to deliver an absolute masterclass of basketball that saw him return 52 points – including a triple-double – plus 11 assists.
If any game confirmed that James was bound for MVP honors, that was it.
2. The Man In the Mask
There are 26 players in NBA history that have recorded 60-point games… can you name them all?
Probably not, but you can probably guess that LeBron James is very much part of this stellar list of stars.
He achieved the feat in 2014 on the back of the Miami Heat’s incredible double championship win. And they were looking good for a three-peat too, especially with LeBron in this kind of form.
The Charlotte Bobcats were the unfortunate recipients of his 61-point brilliance as the Heat ran out 124-107 winners in a match that asserted the Miami franchise’s dominance in the Eastern Conference.
And the fact that LeBron delivered an elite-level performance while wearing a mask that Zorro would kill for, designed to protect his broken nose, only serves to enhance his legend.
In the end, the Heat’s hopes for a historic three-peat were ended by the San Antonio Spurs, who were led to glory by an inspired Kawhi Leonard.
It was the last time that Miami would see the King in their jersey, as he returned home to the Cavs the following season.
1. Man On A Mission
There are countless dunks, buzzer beaters, three-pointers and general brilliance on and off-court that could top this list of LeBron’s finest moments.
But really, we should focus on the season that confirmed that he was a one-off talent the like of which the NBA had rarely seen before and may never see again.
It’s that 2009 season, when he won his second consecutive MVP trophy, that has to rank as the King’s crowning glory.
Why, you might be thinking? The Cavs lost in the Championship play-offs, and so surely one of LeBron’s three championship victories are more deserving?
Perhaps, but we prefer to remember him at his absolute peak as one of the greatest all-round superstars the sport has ever seen.
Let’s take a look at the rollcall of his stats from that season: he led the Cavs in points, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, and as if that wasn’t enough he also finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year rankings.
He almost single-handedly guided the Cavaliers to the play-offs, where he blasted aside the Pistons and the Hawks, before scoring 49 points in defeat to the Magic in the first game of the Finals.
It was the beginning of the end for LeBron in Cleveland; he would jet off to Miami for a four-year stint with the Heat where he would finally get himself some silverware dedicated to team performances, not just his own.
But for all his accomplishments, 2009/10 is perhaps the pinnacle of the King’s reign over the NBA.