NBA Finals: LeBron James’s Record Has Improved With Age

The 2017 NBA Finals, which begin at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Friday, will be LeBron James’s seventh in a row.


Even during an NBA era lacking parity—partly thanks to the talents of the likes of James, and Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant —32-year-old James’s consistency stands out.

On the eve of another Finals appearance, here’s how “King James” has fared since his debut a decade ago.

2007

A 22-year-old James, in his fourth NBA season, went to the Finals for the first time. The Cavaliers, in a first-ever appearance in a NBA Finals series, ran into a brick wall in the form of the San Antonio Spurs, though. MVP Tony Parker averaged 24.5 points per game, while James could only manage 22 ppg, as the Spurs swept the series.

2011

James wouldn’t get back to the Finals until the season of “The Decision,” when he teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at the Miami Heat. James had moved to South Beach to win a title but he would still have to wait for that. This time is was Dirk Nowitzki as MVP who usurped him, as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Heat in six games. James averaged 17.8 ppg to finish third on the Heat in scoring.

2012

James only had to wait a year for his first title. The Heat faced the Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder following a classic seven-game series against the Boston Celtic in the Eastern Conference Finals. James exploded in scoring with 28.6 ppg and was crowned MVP as the Heat took the series in five games.

2013

In a seven-game classic, James gained a measure of revenge for six years previous. He put up 25.3 ppg as the Heat defeated the Spurs four games to three, and was named MVP again. James’s game seven performance may be the finest of his career, with 37 points and 12 rebounds.

2014

The Spurs took revenge and then some, in one of the most lopsided statistical Finals in history. Kawhi Leonard was MVP and James’s fine individual performance—28.2 ppg, leading the Heat in minutes—could not prevent a 4-1 series defeat.

2015

After four seasons with the Heat, James returned to Cleveland and sure enough, the historically bad Cavaliers began winning again. However, they were not yet good enough to win a championship. James averaged 35.8 ppg and led both teams in points, assists and rebounds. But with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving both missing significant chunks of the series, Cleveland lost a 2-1 lead in the series. Andre Iguodala was Finals MVP, mostly for guarding James.

2016

For the third time in his playing days there, J ames took Cleveland to the Finals and this time brought home the title. Everything seemed lost after the Warriors took a 3-1 series lead. But James dragged the Cavaliers back from the brink to win the seven-game series, averaging 29.7 ppg as he was named Finals MVP again.