LeBron Raymone James (born December 30, 1984) is an NBA small forward for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Considered to be the face of the league since at least the start of the 2010s, LeBron is the holder of four NBA championships and four NBA MVP awards. With numerous other awards such as four NBA Finals MVP awards, an NBA scoring title, selection to the NBA All-Star game in all but one of his 17 seasons in the league, records of 16 overall and 13 first-team All-NBA selections, a Rookie of the Year award, and two Olympic Gold Medals, he is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player since Michael Jordan (and some will argue that James is superior). Not to mention that he's the only individual to have been named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated three times.*
Tropes associated with LeBron James:
- The Ace: Considered to be one for the Cavaliers, especially in the 2017-2018 season where he led Cleveland to the Finals, despite the Cavs having major issues due to roster changes (such as losing perennial All-Star Kyrie Irving to Boston in what turned out to be a lopsided deal in the Celtics' favor). LeBron took it to another level when the media and the fans seriously started to consider that he might be better than Michael Jordan, who is by far the consensus best player in NBA history, and considered by many to be untouchable in that regard. James mostly earned this distinction by winning his conference eight years in a row, with two different teams (Miami and Cleveland); only one other player has appeared in the Finals in as many consecutive years while also being a league MVP (Bill Russell did so 10 times from 1957-66, all with the same Boston Celtics team). After moving to the LA Lakers, he led them to a championship in his second season.
- Always Someone Better:
- Michael Jordan is this to him. While it's debatable who is the better player, Jordan has the accolades to back him up, winning as many Finals series as LeBron has lost. LeBron himself has stated that his main motivation is to catch "the ghost [who] played in Chicago".
- The argument can be made that he's this to Kevin Durant, who admittedly joined the Golden State Warriors to not only beat LeBron James but also (temporarly) usurped him as the best player in the NBA.
- From the day he signed with Miami to the day his second run in Cleveland ended, LeBron and/or his team played this role to the entire rest of the Eastern Conference. For those eight seasons, he and his team won their division and the conference finals every single year, placing either 1st or 2nd in the bracket in all but the last of those years—and in a conference where sub-.500 teams snuck into the playoffs onto the regular, the list of contenders who even had a chance of knocking LeBron and company down was never longer than one or two names.
- Bash Brothers: When he was on the Heat, LeBron was this with Dwyane Wadenote , one of his best friends off the court. One of their signature moves was an alley-oop pass to one another.
- By the time Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers in 2019, he established this relationship with Lebron - one that actually had roots in the distant past when a younger Davis once traveled to Ohio to attend a basketball seminar ran by James. Their subsequent season saw them perform to such a great degree that their collective statline made them rival some of the greatest duos in Lakers' franchise history, such as Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, and Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabar.
- Chew Toy: The Toronto Raptors are this to him. From 2016-2018, the Raptors faced LeBron and the Cavaliers in the playoffs three straight times, losing each series soundly. While the 2016 contest was a hard fought one in the Conference Finals, the 2017-2018 second-round series were utter bloodbaths in which the Cavs would sweep the Raptors in 4 straight games each, with LeBron being a major factor in each sweep, and despite the Raptors being favoured in both series. It got so bad that people were poking fun at Toronto, calling it LeBronto, a spin on how badly LeBron has manhandled the Raptors. Incidentally, Toronto would win the NBA title in LBJ's first season in L.A. - one that he wasn't in to begin with.
- He's also turned the Atlanta Hawks into one whenever they've met in the playoffs. It doesn't get as much attention because the first encounter was years before the other two, but LeBron and company have swept the Hawks all three times they've faced off.
- Crutch Character: As a Cavalier, he was the biggest example in the entire NBA. During his first run with Cleveland in the 2000s, LeBron pulled some absolutely Herculean feats, even dragging the team to the 2007 Finals pretty much by himself, but he could never overcome the shallow pool of supporting talent around him. When he left for Miami, the Cavs cratered so completely that they went from having the league's best record in '09-'10 to its second-worst in '10-'11. Upon his return, he avoided this problem for the first couple seasons, thanks to the Cavs having multiple other stars like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to share the load, and it paid off with their famous victory over the Warriors in the 2016 Finals. But after securing that ring, a mix of trades, injuries, and—in JR Smith's case—the occasional boneheaded play at the worst possible time slowly forced LeBron back into the role by the end of the 2017-18 season, where he carried the team to their fourth straight Eastern Conference title before promptly getting swept by the Warriors. Hilariously, once he left for Los Angeles, the Cavaliers posted the exact same record they did after his first disappearance, though they at least had the comfort of not being dead last in the East this time.
- Defeating the Undefeatable: Took the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors - who had set the record for having the best regular season in NBA history - and came back from a 3-1 deficit to win Cleveland's first major sports title in more than 50 years.
- The Dreaded: Even to this day, a lot of teams treat LeBron this way due to his bottomless skillset. This also applies to any team's fanbase, but especially that of the Toronto Raptors who were swept in the second round two years in a row. You could imagine the Raptors' fanbase heaving a huge sigh of relief when LeBron left for the Lakers, and an even bigger one when the Lakers missed the playoffs.
- Easily Forgiven: When LeBron left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010, just about the entire city felt betrayed and LeBron became an instant villain, as well as arguably the most hated sports figure in Cleveland's history (his only competition being Art Modell). Fans burned his memorabilia in protest and anguish, his murals in Cleveland were either removed, defaced, or both, and his presence at the Cavaliers' home arena elicited "Roman Reigns the day after he retired The Undertaker" levels of boos and fan vitriol, plus the need for increased security personnel.
When he became a free agent in 2014, however, and declared that he was "coming home", he was welcomed with open arms, and remains beloved in his home town, especially after bringing an NBA championship to the title-deprived Clevelandnote in 2016.
In 2018 when he once again became a free agent and then signed with the Los Angeles Lakers fans were left sad but not angered, thanking him for leading the Cavaliers to four consecutive Finals appearances and one championship, Cleveland's first in over 50 years.
- Fake-Hair Drama: LeBron started losing his hair a few seasons into his career, and his on-and-off attempts to disguise it have become something of a Running Gag over the years.
- Fandom Rivalry:
- Fans of LeBron James and fans of Michael Jordan will probably never settle the debate on which player is greater. Supporters of Jordan will point to the fact that Jordan has won more championships and Finals MVPs, and has a perfect record in the Finals, and also that Jordan was more clutch. Fans of LeBron will say that he is the better, more versatile athlete. He led ten teams to the NBA Finals, winning four of them with three different franchises, where he was inauspiciously matched up against historically great teams like the Golden State Warriors.
- His fandom clashed with Kobe Bryant's in the late 2000s/early 2010s, particularly before LeBron started to win championships and firmly established himself as one of the best players to ever touch a basketball. This slowly waned when LeBron moved to the Lakers in 2018, at which point the strong personal friendship both shared helped improve his reputation as Kobe's heir as the Laker superstar capable of bringing the organization more championship gold.
- Genius Bruiser: It gets overlooked a lot compared to his athletic gifts, but LeBron James has arguably the highest basketball IQ in the league thanks to his Photographic Memory, allowing him to remember every play he's seen, and use them to his advantage to set up plays for his teammates. This was most evidenced in the 2018 Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors; despite the Raptors holding the #1 seed and the Cavaliers holding the fourth, LeBron noticed that the Raptors' playbook had not differed in the playoffs than from the regular season. He used this factor to utterly humiliate the Raptors in 4 games, leading to the Raptors' head coach being fired despite winning Coach of the Year that season.
- Heel Realization: After his departure from the Cavaliers in 2010 culminating in being unanimously hated by most basketball fans outside of Miami, LeBron embraced the villain role. However, after losing to the Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, he publicly admitted how he left the Cavaliers wasn't the best move and how being the villain sucked the natural joy of playing basketball because he tried to play the game with hate. This ultimately was a factor in his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers after the 2014 finals.
- Lightning Bruiser: LeBron moves his 6'8", 260-pound body like a tank with turbo boosters. Of the ten players on the floor at a given moment, there's always a chance that LeBron is one of the strongest and fastest players among them at the same time.
- Red Baron: King James; alternatively, the King or simply his initials, LBJ.
- The Rival: Stephen Curry. The rivalry practically writes itself. As if it's not enough that James' Cavaliers and Curry's Warriors are the only two teams in NBA history to meet in four consecutive Finals series (no other pair of teams has done it more than twice), James and Curry are almost the complete antithesis of one another as players. Curry is a masterful shooter who, by NBA standards, is nothing special physically and relies on scoring from the outside. LeBron is arguably the most physically gifted NBA player of all time who scores primarily at the rim. The two get bonus rivalry points for the fact that they were born in the same hospital 3 years apart, Curry to a millionaire NBA player father and LeBron to a single mom on public assistance; the difference is almost comic book-like.:
- Self-Deprecation: He will sometimes take jabs at himself for his absolutely dismal performance in the 2011 NBA Finals. Most notable is his suggestion to use footage of his play from that series to put a crying baby to sleep.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Almost every article, analysis or discussion even remotely related to the Cleveland Cavaliers during LeBron's time playing with them had LeBron as the main subject (Like: "How will the Celtics beat LeBron?").
- It even extends to ESPN. A frequent criticism of the network is that no matter what, they will always find some excuse to talk about him.
- Tempting Fate: Infamously announced that the new-look 2010-2011 Heat came together to win "not one, not two...", but eight or more championships in one of his first post-Decision public appearances. What happened that year was perhaps his worst performance of his entire career in 2011, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the finals. Sure, Miami won back-to-back titles after that dismal performance, and conceivably could've had a three-peat if the 2014 Finals had gone their way, but 2011 was essentially a Reality Ensues moment for him. Not only that, when you set the bar that high, anything you do afterwards loses some of its luster.
- Took a Level in Badass: During the 2011 NBA finals with the Heat taking on the Dallas Mavericks, LeBron had an absolutely dismal performance in Game 4, as the Heat ultimately lost the finals to the Mavs. Given that he had proclaimed a desire to win multiple championships with the Heat almost immediately after he signed with them, fans took this game and piled on the criticism on James. James took this loss pretty hard and used the summer as a period of self-reflection, before redeeming himself in 2012 and 2013, winning Finals MVP both times.