Tha Sports Junkies 101

A Look Back on LeBron’s Impact as His 33rd Birthday Approaches

A Look Back on LeBron's Impact as His 33rd Birthday Approaches Keith Allison / Flickr


LeBron James turns 33 this Saturday and it’s that time of the year where we ask a familiar question: What has LeBron’s impact on the NBA been thus far? Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back over the years on his illustrious career.

First Years in the League

When LeBron was drafted back in 2003 as the #1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, expectations reached a new high. Magazines across the country dubbed him as “The Chosen One.” It would only be a matter of time until the Cavs became a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. According to Basketball-Reference, LeBron averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists during his rookie year. The Cavs finished with a 35-47 record, which was a vast improvement over last year when they had just 17 wins.

By his third year, LeBron’s impact started to set in. In 2005, the LeBron’s squad got off to a fast start. They finished with 50 wins for only the fourth time in franchise history. A year later, they reached their first NBA Finals but were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. There were many memorable moments throughout their playoff run led by LeBron. Fans will always remember him scoring the Cavs final 25 points in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons. LeBron was one of the youngest players to ever reach the Finals at the age of 23.

In 2010, his reign with the Cavs would come to an abrupt close when he chose to leave Cleveland and “take his talents to South Beach” joining forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Looking back at the King of Miami

From 2010 to 2014, the NBA world witnessed a new level of dominance and LeBron’s impact was a major factor. The Miami Heat’s big 3 made it to four consecutive NBA Finals, hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy twice. LeBron was able to bring out the best in his teammates fueling an aging bench. What made his time in Miami truly unique was that even with star firepower, the Heat were unable to fully function without LeBron as their defined leader. This was clearly evident between his first and second season in Miami.

When LeBron first arrived, there were many questions swirling about who would be the leader in the locker room. Wade had been the heart and soul for the past eight years and he had a decision to make on whether to hand the reins to a newcomer in LeBron. Unfortunately, the Heat weren’t able to establish a strong enough bond capable of competing on the biggest stage. That was largely due in part to Wade’s inability to pass the torch. Over the next two seasons, the chemistry was seamless. The Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder and an experienced Spurs team that were both picked to dethrone the King.

Prior to the 2015 season, however, LeBron noticed aging take effect in his teammates. He made the decision to return to Cleveland in an attempt to bring a championship back to his hometown.

LeBron’s Impact in “The Land”

When LeBron returned to the Cavaliers, many wondered if he would be welcomed back. The hatred following his controversial exit quickly fizzled out as LeBron’s impact took effect immediately when they reached the Finals his first year back. Despite losing the series in the end 4-2, LeBron clearly showed why he is still the NBA’s best player. During the playoffs, the Cavs lost two of their best players in Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving due to injury. That forced LeBron to become a one man show with a supporting cast made up of castoffs and washouts. He single-handedly made the series a competitive one nearly forcing a game 7.

The next year would be LeBron’s best. He reached an incredible sixth straight Finals and would not be denied this time around in the end. In addition to bringing Cleveland it’s first championship in 50+ years, LeBron accomplished something we have never seen before. He not only led the Cavs in points rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals, but he led both teams in those respective categories. He has clearly made an argument for this generation’s best player.


Over the years, LeBron’s impact has had an effect both on and off the court. He has inspired basketball players of all ages to play basketball the right way. LeBron remains one of the most unselfish players in the league. He shows no signs of slowing down his performance as he approaches his 33rd birthday. LeBron has played in 15 seasons appearing in 13 All-Star games. He also won three championships, four MVP awards, and three Finals MVP awards, two Olympic gold medals, one scoring title, and a Rookie of the Year award. He is the best overall player this league has ever seen and I truly believe we will not see anyone like him ever again. With his workout regime and love for basketball, LeBron’s impact will extend far beyond this season.