With all the attention and pressure that was piled onto LeBron James' 18-year-old shoulders before ever stepping foot onto an NBA court, many people thought the most hyped rookie in league history would fall flat on his face. Instead, LeBron proved all the critics wrong, averaging better than 20 points, five rebounds and five assists on his way to becoming the first Rookie of the Year in Cleveland Cavaliers history. Focused, determined and, best of all, humble, James may be the NBA's brightest young star.
In his first few seasons in the NBA, LeBron captured every “youngest to” record known to man but it was his third season that arguably was the most impressive. Despite not having the services of his wingman, Larry Hughes, for nearly 45 games, LeBron managed to lead his Cavaliers to a 50-win season and their first playoff appearance in eight seasons. James received a good amount of criticism for never having hit a game-winning bucket in his career but was able to accomplish that feat more than once in the 05’-06’ season. LeBron had another stellar regular season, averaging 31.4 ppg, 7 rpg, and 6.6 apg, and finished second in the MVP voting behind Steve Nash.
Then came playoff time. Local and national media, as well as basketball fans around the world, wondered what LeBron would bring to the table in his first postseason trip. It’s safe to say James brought his “A” game and gave them quite a treat. In his first ever playoff game, LeBron incredibly became the youngest to drop a triple-double in his postseason debut. James and his Cavaliers defeated the Washington Wizards in their first-round series and proceeded to take the former NBA champion Detroit Pistons to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals before bowing out.
Possibly the most anticipated summer awaits LeBron and the Cavaliers. The team can offer James a contract extension as early as July 1, which will turn out to be a max deal at five years and about $75 million. James is not allowed to sign the deal until July 12 but he has expressed tremendous interest in staying with the Cavaliers and all indications are that he will put his name on the dotted line. Owner Dan Gilbert and GM Danny Ferry have been doing everything in their power to keep the young phenom happy in Cleveland and they may finally see the fruits of their labor come July when LeBron signs that long-term contract. LeBron staying in Cleveland for years to come increases the chances of fans being able to witness another first…a Cavaliers NBA championship.
LeBron on the Web
LBJ's official site.
So Says The King
"Of course, I want to stay (in Cleveland). This season has really put me in a good frame of mind as far as me being a part of this organization for a long time -- the great teammates that I have and a coaching staff that I really enjoy being around."
"I think I've reached a point where every part of my game needs tuning up now. I don't think I need to add any more parts. I think I just need to tune everything up and just be more complete, offensively and defensively."
On his ultimate goal: "To win a championship. It's as simple as that. We did a great job this year of making the playoffs, but our goals are higher now. We're going to all have to be mentally focused on trying to get better during the off-season and try to come back and win a championship."
"You can't back down from anybody. They try to take your manhood in this league. They can't get mine. They tried early but after about game seven, it was about over."
"The greats didn't just do it one year, they did it throughout their career. That's going to be key for me, to maintain this and get better every day."