Reducing LeBron James’ storied career to nine plays takes a Herculean effort. Night in, night out, King James has brought an astonishing consistency that is littered with highlights of all types: big dunks, beautiful layups, impossible passes and game-changing chase-down blocks. Here we count down the nine greatest plays of one of the greatest NBA players of all time.
9) Self Pass Through Tristan Thompson’s Legs
As far as beautiful accidents go, this is one of the greatest in history. In March 2018, against the up-and-coming 76ers, LeBron threw a behind-the-back cross as he drove to the rim. It’s a move he’s used to, but what made this one so special was the fact that the ball went through his own teammate’s legs. LeBron then executed a brilliant finish at the rim to get the 2. A true classic.
8) No-Look Pass to Dwyane Wade
Speaking of through the legs, LeBron managed to humiliate Aaron Gordon after a wild near-loose ball save. After recovering the ball near the top of the key, LeBron tossed a no-look pass to Dwyane Wade for the perfect connect. These guys make it look so easy.
7) LeBron Jumps Over John Lucas III
Some posters are so powerful, so humiliating, so brutal, that you almost feel bad for the defender. That’s the case here with John Lucas III. Catching an impossible lob, LeBron leaped right over Lucas and slams it one handed. Lucas would later play with LeBron, albeit briefly, on the Heat, where he was reminded of the humiliation daily.
6) Over The Backboard, Good For 2
Guarded by Trevor Ariza, LeBron was pushed against the baseline in this intense loose-ball save. Most players would scramble for a pass or cause a turn over, but LeBron confidently turns and launches a jumper over the backboard and through the hoop just as the shot clock expired. A true must-see-it-to-believe-it moment.
5) The Dunk Heard ‘Round the World
Cavaliers Prime LeBron was a different kind of player. Outrageously athletic and strong, he was as physically perfect of a basketball player as anyone since Wilt. That’s why his astounding playoffs dunk over Kevin Garnett — in one of the many fabled battles between the Celtics and the Cavaliers — was no true surprise. The announcer’s reaction is also one for the history books.
4) 25 Points In A Row
In what was widely considered James’ official coming out party, LeBron put on a show at the Palace in Detroit. With 48 points, including the final 25 (!) for the Cavs, and 29 of the last 30, LeBron faced a stalwart defense with variety and finesse. Jumpers, drives, threes, passes, LeBron performed with ‘”Jordan-esque” intensity. On the second biggest stage in basketball, LeBron carried his team to a 3-2 lead and by hitting the game winning layup.
3) Arm Wrestle With Tiago Splitter
Any great play is much more impressive in the Finals. That’s what it’s all about, after all, the quixotic, maddening quest for a ring. That’s why this monumental block against Tiago Splitter in Game 2 of the 2013 Finals is so impressive. Not only does it display LeBron’s raw strength, but also his impeccable timing and surreal court savvy.
2) Jason Terry Gets Obliterated
Another day, another humiliating LeBron lob. Off a beautiful alley-oop, LeBron absolutely massacred the Celtics’ Jason Terry in TD Garden. It was the perfect fast break, the moment that any superstar salivates over. Miami even got a technical for taunting after LeBron justifiably stared Terry down. Some say Jason Terry is still recovering.
1) The Block
We all knew where this list was leading. It’s the greatest play in the greatest comeback in basketball history during one of the greatest Finals showdowns ever on hardwood. With the series, his legacy, and Cleveland’s first shot at a title in 50-some years on the line, LeBron pulled off a Game 7 miracle to block former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala when it all mattered most. This is a play you could watch a million times and still feel your jaw hit the floor.