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LeBron Raymone James (born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). James, commonly nicknamed “King James,” and sometimes referred to as “The L-Train” by Austin Carr, was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA star while still in high school at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School, and was named Ohio’s “Mr. Basketball” three times. At the age of 18, he was selected with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cavaliers and signed an unprecedented US$90 million shoe contract with Nike before his NBA debut. He has since set numerous youngest player records. During his first season, he received the NBA Rookie of the Year Award and in the following four seasons received All-NBA and All-Star honors. He has led the Cavaliers to consecutive playoff appearances in 2006, 2007, and 2008; in 2007, the team advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1992 and the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
James is listed as a small forward, but often handles the ball and runs the Cavalier’s offense as a point guard would. James was a member of the United States men’s national basketball team that won the bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and he finished second in the league Most Valuable Player balloting in 2006.
James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Facing the Sacramento Kings in his first NBA game, James recorded 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and 6 steals and shot 60% from the floor. After recording a season-high 41 points against the New Jersey Nets, James became the youngest player in league history to score at least 40 points in a game. He averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game for the season, and was named 2003-04 NBA Rookie of the Year; becoming the first Cavalier and youngest NBA player to ever receive the award. He joined Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only three players in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game in their rookie season. The Cavaliers improved by 18 wins and concluded the regular season with a 35–47 record, but failed to make the playoffs.
James was named as one of the top candidates for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. Although he finished second to Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns in MVP voting, he was awarded co-MVP honors with Nash by The Sporting News; an award given by the publication that is based on the voting of thirty NBA general managers.
James made his playoff debut against the Washington Wizards. He recorded a triple-double with 32 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds, as the Cavaliers defeated the Wizards 97–86. He joined Johnny McCarthy and Magic Johnson as the only players in NBA history to register a triple-double in their playoff debut. For the series, James averaged 35.7 points, as the Cavaliers defeated the Wizards in six games. In the process, however, James set a new record for turnovers in a 6-game series, with 34. In the second round of the playoffs, James and the Cavaliers lost in seven games to the defending Eastern Conference champion and divisional rival Detroit Pistons. James averaged 30.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in the playoffs.
At the end of the season, James negotiated a three year contract extension, with a player option for a fourth year. The contract is worth US$60 million and begins at the start of the 2007–08 season. Although it is for fewer years and less money than the maximum he could sign, it allows him the option of seeking a new contract worth more money as an unrestricted free agent following the 2010 season.
James has established himself as a legitimate triple-double threat and has averaged 26.7 points, 6.4 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game for his career. As of the 2007–08 season, he has recorded 17 triple-doubles in his career, with 14 in the regular season and 3 in the postseason. On offense, James utilizes his quickness, size, and strength to get past defenders. James is known for his exceptional upper body strength. When penetrating to the basket, James exhibits superb body control, adjusting his shot in mid-air according to the defense, allowing him to absorb contact and finish at the basket. In the 2005–06 season, he led the league in completed traditional three point plays. He is a solid rebounder who regularly ranks among the league leaders in rebounds for the small forward position.