LeBron James Career Timeline: A Look Back at 18 Years of the King in the NBA

Published 03/02/2021, 1:38 PM EST
Feb 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) positions teammates during the seconds quarter against the Miami Heat at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports


LeBron James came to the league as a prodigy, but when he retires he’ll be remembered as a legend. The King first came into the spotlight with his freakish athleticism during his high school days.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Gradually, LBJ became the “Chosen One” and had a ton of expectations to live up to even before playing a single game in the NBA. Let’s take a look at the phenomenal career of LeBron James in the NBA.

LeBron James’ first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2003-04 to 2009-10)

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Just like that, James was burdened with dreams of an entire city as the Cavs obviously selected LBJ with the pick. From his first day in the league, LeBron James hit the ground running. It was evident by that point that he was the real deal.
During his first 7 years, he won several individual accolades, including 2 NBA MVP awards. What’s even more impressive is the fact that a 22-year-old James led the Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA Finals.
DIVE DEEPER
Image missing

LeBron James Rookie Year: Accolades, Performances, Contract Details, and More

6 months ago

Image missing
Prior to the 2003 NBA Draft, a 18-year-old LeBron was already labeled the consensus number one overall pick. However, the question was who will get their hands on James? The story couldn’t have been better as the Cleveland Cavaliers got the first pick in the draft.
Unfortunately, the Cavs were utterly destroyed by Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. Additionally, time and time again, the Cavs failed to provide James with any help. The boiling point was when the Cavaliers were dominated by the Boston Celtics in the 2009 NBA Playoffs.
LeBron James looked uninterested in playing for the team anymore and then came “The Decision” in the 2010 NBA offseason.

LeBron’s dominant years with the Miami Heat (2010-11 to 2013-14)

After giving his best for 7 years to the city of Cleveland, LeBron finally decided to move on from them. He formed a super team with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami in hopes of finally winning the first ring of his career.
Because of this decision by LeBron, he became the villain in front of the NBA. For those 4 years, LeBron was in his prime, tormenting opponents left and right. LBJ’s gamble paid off, and the Heat made it to the NBA Finals for four consecutive years.
Image missing
MIAMI, FL – JUNE 25: Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James participate in the Miami Heat 2012 NBA Championship Celebration at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 25, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/WireImage)
In those four trips, LeBron and the Heat won two NBA Champions and he was the Finals MVP both times. By this time, LBJ was already the face of the league and completely dominating the league. However, there was one issue with the Miami Heat.
Both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were struggling from injury troubles and were on a path to a steep decline. Additionally, there was still one thing left for the King to achieve: Bring a championship to the city of Cleveland.
DIVE DEEPER
Image missing

Who are the best teammates of LeBron James’ Career?

5 months ago

LeBron James’ return to Cleveland (2014-15 to 2017-18)

In the 2014 offseason, LeBron announced his return to Cleveland in hopes of finally ending the championship drought for Cleveland. This time around, the franchise was keen to provide their leader all the help he needed to win some hardware.
They already had Kyrie Irving, a young but promising point guard who was perfect for LeBron. Furthermore, the Cavs traded for Kevin Love, who was on the path to becoming an NBA superstar with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Image missing
Cavaliers forward LeBron James in action against the Clippers on Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
It was a busy offseason for the Cavs, but they had assembled an excellent team for James to lead. The Cavs went to the 2015 NBA Finals, but due to unfortunate injuries to Irving and Love, LBJ was left alone against the Western Conference juggernauts – the Golden State Warriors.
The two sides continued to battle for the next 3 seasons as the rivalry between LeBron James and Steph Curry took shape. While Curry might have the better Finals record, the 2016 NBA Finals were a nightmare for the Warriors’ fans.
LeBron and Kyrie played out of their minds in the series and made a comeback after being down 3-1. After winning the championship, LeBron was in tears and could muster up the courage to just say this, “CLEVELAND THIS IS FOR YOU!”
James left the Cavaliers for a second time after the 2018 NBA Finals. But this time around, he got the farewell he deserved for giving his best for the organization for so long.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

LeBron’s arrival in Los Angeles

Image missing
Jan 25, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Right now, LeBron James is playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. When he joined the purple and gold, many suspected that LBJ had given up on winning anymore NBA titles. But James proved everyone wrong as he led the Lakers to their first NBA title in a decade in the 2019-20 NBA season.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

With Anthony Davis on his side, the Lakers are expected to repeat the same success this season as well. If he can achieve that, this will be the fifth ring of his illustrious career. Furthermore, it will improve his case for becoming the Greatest Basketball Player of All-Time (GOAT).

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Aikansh Chaudhary

771 articles

Aikansh Chaudhary is an NBA columnist for Essentially Sports. Previously, he helped rank various websites using the latest SEO techniques, and wrote over 2000 articles during his stint as a freelance writer. A die hard Lakers fan, Aikansh will forever uphold LeBron James as the GOAT.

ADVERTISEMENT

More from EssentiallySports on Basketball

ADVERTISEMENT