25 interesting facts about LeBron James you may not have known
Perhaps no player in NBA history has been scrutinized more than Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. Since entering the league out of high school with sky-high expectations, he's been under the microscope for over a decade.
Despite spending his career being compared to some of the game's legends — Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, to name a few — James has mostly lived up to expectations becoming a transcendent superstar in his own right.
After beginning his career in Cleveland, bolting to win two titles in Miami, and then making a dramatic return to the Cavs, LeBron will most likely spend the rest of his career trying to win the franchise its first NBA championship. The multi-talented superstar has put up some incredible stats on the court thus far, and PointAfter has compiled 25 numbers-driven facts about King James that paint a picture of one of the best the game has ever seen.
Note: Stats referenced come courtesy of Basketball Reference and reflect all games played before March 24, 2016.
No. 1 Overall Draft Pick
There was no doubt James would be taken first overall in the 2003 NBA draft. With 13 years to look back on, that year's class ranks among the most successful in the league's history.
Nine players from this draft have made at least one All-Star team, and four of the top five picks — James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade — are probably headed to the Hall of Fame once they hang up their sneakers.
2 NBA Championships
James finally captured his first NBA championship in 2012, his ninth season in the league. Cavaliers fans had to watch in despair as their one-time hero hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy as a member of the Miami Heat.
James and the Heat defended their title in 2013 thanks to a miraculous comeback in Game 6. James was named the Finals MVP in both series.
2 Olympic Gold Medals
In 2008, James headlined the "Redeem Team" that reclaimed the gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Beijing four years after the U.S. national team disappointed in Athens. James averaged 15.5 points per game in eight games, second on the team behind Carmelo Anthony.
In 2012, the U.S. team defended its title in London. James averaged 13.3 points per game during the Olympics and notched a team-high 45 assists in eight games.
3x Ohio Mr. Basketball Award Winner
During James' much-hyped prep career at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School, he was named the state's player of the year three times, a feat that had never before been accomplished. During his senior season, James averaged 31.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.4 steals per game as his team went 25-1 and won the national championship (as selected by USA Today).
The Big Three
There's no way to look back on James' career without mentioning the infamous "Decision" television event that led to the formation of the Miami Heat's Big Three.
James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces and promised not just one title, but multiple NBA championships. Though they fell short of becoming the modern-day version of Bill Russell's Boston Celtics dynasty, the Heat made four trips to the NBA Finals in four years with the Big Three intact.
4 NBA MVP Awards
James has been named the league's Most Valuable Player four times in his career, tied with Wilt Chamberlain. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six MVPs), Bill Russell (five) and Michael Jordan (five) have won more MVP awards in the history of the NBA.
6 NBA All-Defensive Teams
One of the most effective parts of James' game is his commitment on the defensive end of the floor. Listed at 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, he has the ability to guard every position, and his defensive efforts have landed him on six NBA All-Defensive teams (five first-team selections, one second-team).
10 Top-Five MVP Finishes
Perhaps just as impressive as James' four MVP awards is his decade-long residency near the top of MVP ballots. James' 10 top-five finishes are tied with Michael Jordan, who played 15 seasons in the NBA compared to James' 13 years. Of course, Jordan took a nearly two-year break from basketball in his early 30s, but it's still an impressive feat for James, who will likely make it 11 top-five finishes at the end of the 2015-2016 season.
11 All-NBA Teams
James has been an All-NBA selection in 11 of his 12 full seasons in the league, with his rookie year being the lone exception. Nine of his All-NBA nods have been first-team selections, with two second-team honors coming in 2005 and 2007. Assuming he earns his 10th first-team All-NBA selection this season, he'll become the 10th player all-time to accomplish that feat. Seven of the nine 10-time first-team All-NBA players are in the Hall of Fame, with Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan surefire bets to be elected in on the first ballot.
12 All-Star Appearances
Though not as esteemed as an All-NBA selection, James has been a mainstay at All-Star Weekend for nearly his entire career. He's made 12 consecutive All-Star Game appearances, only missing out on an invite during his rookie season. That puts him in a five-way tie with Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Magic Johnson and Elvin Hayes for most All-Star selections for No. 1 overall draft picks. Given his penchant for staying healthy and his worldwide popularity, it's possible he could catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record of 19 career All-Star appearances.
12 30-Point Games in the NBA Finals
James' performances in his six trips to the Finals, in which his teams have lost four of six series and posted a 13-20 record, have been well-scrutinized. He's topped the 30-point mark in 12 career NBA Finals games, and his teams are 7-5 in those contests. Five of his 12 games of 30 or more points in the Finals came last season against the Golden State Warriors.
15 40-Point Games in the Playoffs
In 178 career postseason games, James has scored 40 points or more 15 times. His postseason career high in points scored is 49, a mark he's reached twice: first in Game 1 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic, then in Game 4 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Brooklyn Nets.
25 Points in NBA Debut
After years of dominating high school opponents and taking on an almost mythical status, James finally made his NBA debut on Oct. 30, 2003, and he did not disappoint. In a 106-92 road loss to the Sacramento Kings, James shot 12-for-20 from the field for 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals, setting the record for most points by a prep-to-pro in his debut. Jonathan Bender and Amar'e Stoudemire previously held the mark, with 10 points apiece in their respective debuts.
25 Consecutive Points
One of James' earliest moments of sheer dominance came in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. With 2:16 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Cavaliers trailing the Detroit Pistons, 88-84, James made a three-pointer to cut the lead to one. That shot started a run in which the then-22-year-old James scored 25 consecutive points for the Cavs, leading the team to a 109-107 double-overtime win. Cleveland went on to win the series and advance to the Finals, where the team was swept by the Spurs.
26.4 Points per Game in NBA Finals
James has often been criticized for not having a "killer instinct" in big games and, more specifically, not taking enough shots. While he has at times appeared to be less assertive offensively, his career stat line in the Finals is impressive: 26.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game, numbers that are nearly identical to his career regular-season averages. Then again, maybe that's the point — stars typically take on a heavier scoring load in the postseason.
27.6 Career Player Efficiency Rating
James' career player efficiency rating (PER) of 27.6 is the second-highest in the history of the NBA. The top spot on that list, fittingly, goes to Michael Jordan, who posted a 27.9 career PER.
30 Points per Game in 2007-08 Season
James is most respected for being an all-around player, someone who impacts the game in ways beyond just gaudy point totals. That is evident in the fact that, despite his immense talents, he's only won one scoring title in his career. James averaged 30 points per game in the 2007-08 season, just ahead of runner-up Kobe Bryant, who averaged 28.3 points per game that year.
31.7 PER in 2008-09 Season
James' career-high in PER came in 2008-09 and is good for the fourth-best single-season mark in the history of the NBA. That is likely to change very soon, as Stephen Curry is on pace to set the single-season PER mark this season, which would push James to the fifth spot.
55 Career Triple-Doubles
A testament to James' versatility is his 55 career triple-doubles, including the postseason. He's had 14 triple-doubles in the playoffs, including six in the NBA Finals. In his six Finals triple-doubles, James' teams went 3-3.
55 Career 40-Point Games in the Regular Season
At his best, James played like someone who could go off for 40 points whenever he wanted to. He's reached the 40-point mark in 55 games during the regular season. James had nine 40-point outings in two different seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10), though he has yet to drop 40 in a game this season. In the 2013-14 season, he had three 40-point games, including his career high, which brings us to...
On March 3, 2014, James scored a career-high 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats in a 124-107 win. James shot 22-for-33 from the field, including 8-for-10 on three-point attempts, and went 9-for-10 from the free throw line. He also tied for the team lead with seven rebounds and dished out five assists.
71 Career Games Missed
One of the most amazing aspects of James' career has been his durability. He's missed just 71 regular season games in his career, which averages to 5.5 games missed per year over the course of 13 full seasons. James has logged a lot of miles during the course of his career, and though he's not quite as dominant as he was during his absolute peak, he's amazingly still firmly entrenched among the game's elite.
273 Points in the Olympics
James has participated in three Olympics during his career, with 273 career points in 24 games. He played sparingly on the 2004 team, which took home the bronze medal, but averaged 14.4 points per game as the focal point of the 2008 and 2012 teams, which went a combined 16-0.
26,608 Career Points
James' 26,608 career points is good for 15th all-time in league history, ahead of George Gervin, Tim Duncan, John Havlicek, Paul Pierce and plenty other Hall of Famers. If he scores 1,600 points next season — which would be a career low for total points — he'll crack the top 10 by the time he's 32 years old.
$65 Million in 2015
According to Forbes, James made $65 million in 2015, factoring in his NBA salary and endorsement deals. That put him at No. 18 on the list of the world's highest-paid celebrities of the year, ahead of non-athlete stars like Justin Timberlake, Ryan Seacrest and Jay-Z. In Dec. 2015, Nike announced it had signed James to a lifetime contract with an undisclosed annual salary. Regardless of his on-court success, safe to say it's good to be the King.