A Cavs Fan’s Timeline of LeBron James’ Road to NBA Points King


Photo Courtesy of Michael Conroy

LeBron James competes in a game against the Indiana Pacers.

2006–07 NBA season: 8,439 points

The first time I registered the existence of LeBron James was in 2006, when I was in kindergarten and getting into sports. My dad always put Cleveland Cavaliers games on the TV when they were on, so I took an immediate interest. The first thing I noticed, even as a six-year-old, was that LeBron was different from everybody on the floor. He was stronger, faster, and smarter, and utilized his skills better than anyone else.

What my dad made sure I learned as I got to know LeBron the player was who he was before he became an NBA star. His tough upbringing involving childhood homelessness in Akron, OH, is now well known, but it continues to stick with me today. How could a kid that missed 83 days of school in fourth grade due to his unstable home life become so unbelievably successful?

I couldn’t relate to his life story, but I was inspired by it. It made me feel like I could do anything as I watched the kid from Akron take Cleveland to its first NBA Finals appearance in team history in 2007.

2007-08: 10,689 points

One of the first times I ever saw LeBron in person was in the 2008 NBA Playoffs against a veteran Boston Celtics squad that had Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. The Cavs pulled out a 74–69 win thanks to LeBron, who tallied 32 points and six assists, meaning he had a hand in over 50 percent of the team’s points. When I got to first grade the next day, I was so excited to tell my gym teacher — who allegedly met LeBron at some point — that I was at the game.

The Decision and the Miami Heat years: 15,251 points

Although I loved LeBron during his first stint in Cleveland, I wasn’t mature enough to give him a break when he made the first — and pretty much only — big mistake of his career. In July 2010, he infamously announced he was leaving Cleveland for Miami during an hour-long special on ESPN called “The Decision.” The event led to the burning of his jerseys all around Northeast Ohio, and I would have set mine ablaze too if it wasn’t for my belief in the “don’t play with matches” line they told us in school.

Seeing what LeBron did in Miami was extremely painful. His team won all the time — two titles in four years — and he seemed to have so much fun while it happened. How could he leave Cleveland in the dust like nothing happened when he had been the biggest sports figure in Northeast Ohio for years?

The Return: 23,170 points

In Summer 2014, LeBron’s contract was up with Miami, and the discussion over where he would land heated up again. I remember I was at the dentist when former ESPN analyst Chris Broussard OC ’90 tweeted on July 6, 2014, “Cleveland has replaced Miami as my frontrunner to land LeBron James…”

Five days later, LeBron announced he was coming back home in an essay published in Sports Illustrated. It rejuvenated Cleveland, which had seen zero playoff wins by any of its teams during LeBron’s tenure in Miami. The only frustration for me was that my old jersey was now three sizes too small.

Ending the Drought: 26,833 points

I was 15 and watching with my dad on June 19, 2016, when LeBron James and the Cavaliers ended Cleveland’s 52-year pro sports championship drought. His famous block on Golden State’s Andre Igudola is cemented into my mind as it is in every other Cleveland sports fan’s. The fact that his most famous moment was a defensive hustle play encapsulates who he is as a player — great in every facet of the game. Unlike his championship celebrations in Miami where he was smiling and palling around with his teammates, LeBron broke down during his postgame interview and yelled, “CLEVELAND, THIS IS FOR YOU!”

2018 Carry and Second Departure: 32,958 points

By 2018, the quality of the Cavs roster was diminished by player turnover, including the departure of a key point guard. What LeBron did with this team was something I have never seen another athlete do. With a roster of zero other x-factor players, he put the team on his back and willed them to a Finals appearance, sporting double ice packs on his knees after each game. The team eventually lost to an unfairly stacked Golden State roster led by Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, but I can say that year was the most impressive individual performance by a single athlete I’ve ever seen.

When LeBron left Cleveland for the second time that summer, I couldn’t even be mad about it. He brought Cleveland a championship and did all he could to do it again. As an extremely mature high school senior, I wished him the best as he joined the Lakers.

February 7, 2023: 38,390 points

After a tumultuous four and a half seasons in LA that included an NBA championship but also a couple of losing seasons, LeBron closed in on what was once thought to be an unbreakable record. For 38 years, Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had the all-time NBA points record with 38,387. Last Tuesday, LeBron passed him with a fadeaway jumper over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kenrich Williams in Los Angeles.

When I watched the shot go in, I wasn’t reminded of Cavs highlights or any other of his NBA moments. What I immediately thought of was LeBron’s roots in Akron. A kid who had been dealt as bad a hand as anyone achieved one of the most impressive milestones in sports history. I’m 22, and I already can’t wait to tell my grandkids about him.