LeBron James is a generational talent. The ten-time NBA finalist does things that other players can’t imagine. James is without a doubt a legend. It’s really down to your personal opinion – whether or not you think he is better than Michael Jordan. But James has played on weaker teams than Jordan.
The Lakers’ star has put in some of the best performances in NBA Playoff and Finals history. His highlight reel is endless and he comes up clutch when it matters. There truly isn’t anybody out there like him right now and we just have to enjoy this magician while he keeps playing. So check out 20 of Lebron’s greatest moments in the NBA Playoffs and Finals below via Athlon Sports.
20. Heating up the Heat
Anthony Davis stole the headlines in his first-ever NBA Finals appearance in 2020. After scoring 34 points, that was understandable. However, LeBron demonstrated his own class with a masterful performance as he orchestrated the Lakers’ attack against his old team.
This one was massive for LeBron because of the manner in which he left the Heat. Game One saw James score 25 points, with 13 rebounds, and nine rebounds. He just made everything look so simple and with Davis beside him, it was like a defining moment in NBA history.
Miami had a good record over the Indiana Pacers during LeBron’s time in Florida. But they still relied on him to do his thing upon occasion. People often forget this moment because it didn’t have the same level of jeopardy, but things could have been different if he hadn’t produced.
The Heat met the Pacers in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals with Game One in the balance. Indiana led up until the final seconds when LeBron came up with a buzzer-beater to seal the win. You can check out the clip above and see how much it meant to him.
Sometimes a single elite player makes all of the difference. The Indiana Pacers found this out the hard way in 2018 when LeBron stole the show. Cleveland met the Pacers in a thrilling Eastern Conference First Round series that went all the way to Game Seven.
However, the Pacers could have run away with this tie if it wasn’t for one man. The Cavaliers trailed in Game Five with only seconds left on the clock. But it wasn’t over yet. LeBron produced another buzzer-beater to break the Pacers’ hearts. To rub salt into their wounds, he produced 45 points in the Cavs’ Game Seven win.
It took James three seasons to make the playoffs with the Cavaliers but when he did, he announced himself in style. LeBron played the whole game against the Washington Wizards and took the game to them. He managed a triple-double in his postseason debut which is an outstanding feat to be sure.
This made him just the third player in the playoff history to achieve this feat. He joined the company of Magic Johnson and Johnny McCarthy as he demonstrated his brilliance. His 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists were the difference in the Cavaliers’ 97-86 victory.
Yet another buzzer-beater, James proved that he is the man for the big occasion when the Cavaliers defeated the Chicago Bulls in 2015. However, the Bulls led the series 2-1 coming into this tie. Another win would have been a knife in the hearts of the Cavaliers. But it looked like they were on their way to defeat with seconds left.
Then LeBron did what he does. He tied the series with an outstanding buzzer-beater as he leaped over Jimmy Butler. The inspired Cavaliers won the series and made the Eastern Conference Finals after their leader’s moment of brilliance gave them momentum.
One of the most breathtaking moments in LeBron’s postseason highlights reel saw him execute this ridiculous dunk against the Celtics. The Cavaliers played the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals. James bypassed the hapless Celtics’ defense to slam the dunk home.
Kevin Harlan’s commentary said it best. LeBron made his opposition look like amateurs as he blazed past them. In the end, the Celtics won the seven-game series. But if you took one moment to admire, this has to be up there. Truly brilliant from the King.
Records and rings don’t always go hand-in-hand, but this one is a testament to LeBron’s greatness. In Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics, James had a special moment. It came with 2:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.
James broke Michael Jordan’s record to become the postseason’s top scorer. In the space of a single season, he blazed past Kobe Bryant and Kameer Abdul-Jabbar with Jordan’s 5,987 points in sight. Finally, he broke the record and now stands at over 7,000.
The LA Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets in 2020 ensuring their place in the NBA Finals. It also guaranteed LeBron his first appearance in the Finals with the franchise, but it would be his tenth appearance overall. In sum, this is simply outrageous and only two players have appeared in more than him.
A three-time winner with two franchises, LeBron has played in more Finals than Magic Johnson (10) and Michael Jordan (9). Of course, he will never break Jordan’s record of six Championship wins and missed a massive opportunity with the Heat in 2011. But this is a massive achievement in its own right.
The Magic took this series against the Cavs but LeBron still provided some moments of magic. We saw the first buzzer-beater of his career in Game Two. It kept the Cavaliers in contention, even if they fell short in the end. However, we saw his individual skill.
Orlando led 95-93 with a single second left to play. Then ‘King James’ rose to the occasion as he scored a sensational three-pointer to even the tie. It sent the Cavaliers’ fans into ecstasy because it was truly brilliant. One of the most stunning moments of his early career.
One of the most mind-blowing things about LeBron is his outstanding consistency. Very few players can reach his level but almost none can maintain it for season after season. In 2017, his Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, but LeBron was outstanding.
He averaged 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 10.0 assists in the series to create a new record. In short, he became the first player to record a triple-double average in the postseason. This is quite simply a breathtaking statistic. LeBron has played on some vulnerable teams but he was always clutch.
LeBron puts up such outstanding numbers that it is easy for all of his points to blur into one. However, some shots stand out more than others. One of his finest moments of skill came in the 2018 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Toronto Raptors as he demonstrated his ability.
The Cavaliers won the first two games and wanted to put the series to bed. King James showed off his class with an awesome floater to seal the deal. Then the Cavs went on to win Game Four by 35 points. Check out the clip of this iconic moment above.
The Cavaliers made it to the NBA Finals without being the finished product. They faced the heavily-favored Golden State Warriors and took a shock 2-1 lead after three games. Nobody thought that they were going to be as competitive as they were.
It’s worth mentioning that Golden State missed Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving and eventually took over the series. But for a while, LeBron was like Leonidas standing against the hordes of Persia. There was no way he could win but he went down fighting.
It looked like the Detroit Pistons were cruising to victory over the Lakers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals. Then James went full Spartan against them on the night. After four games, the Cavaliers and the Pistons were 2-2. But the Pistons took over in Game Five and lead 88-81 with seven minutes left.
James forced overtime with seven straight points. Then he scored another 18 unanswered to seal the win. He finished the game with 48 points and seven assists. In sum, he blew the Pistons away in one of the most complete individual moments of his career.
Game Four of the 2012 NBA Finals saw James show immense strength of character. In short, there was a big moment that could have been a negative turning point in the series for the Miami Heat. However, James was able to recover and keep going as he kept his team firing.
James attempted to go past Kevin Durant but suddenly pulled up lame. After suffering a cramp, he went off the court for over a minute as he tried to recover. Then he returned to the court and scored a three-pointer to seal a 3-1 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
LeBron powered the Lakers to the NBA Finals in 2020 with a devastating performance in Game Five against the Denver Nuggets. He burst their bubble with a superb triple-double to seal the series for the Lakers. It was his best performance of the return after the NBA’s unexpected hiatus.
Denver had no answers for his brilliance. Coach Michael Malone explained that for his players this was a special moment but for James it was routine. He put up 38 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists and made the Finals for the first time as a Laker.
One title is great but two are awesome. James had the chance to get a second ring on his finger in 2013 and he grabbed it with both hands. It looked like the Heat were on their way out before Ray Allen saved the tie in Game Six of the Finals. Then LeBron came to life.
It’s incredibly difficult to win back-to-back titles in the NBA. But it’s even more challenging to win consecutive Finals MVP awards. James is one of just four players to achieve this feat. However, he is nowhere near Michael Jordan. M.J. won three back-to-back titles twice.
2012 was the year when LeBron won his first title. But if it wasn’t for his stellar contribution against the Boston Celtics, the Heat would never have got that far. They played the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals but trailed 3-2. It looked like the series was slipping away, but then James woke up.
He was a force of nature as he led Miami to a 98-79 victory. In sum, he scored an outstanding 45 points as he blew the Celtics away. Furthermore, his shooting stood at 19-0f-26. Then, he added 15 assist and four assists in a great showing. Prolific and powerful, he was unstoppable.
LeBron sealed his first title in Game Five of the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. After disappointment the season before, this was his road to redemption. In sum, he came to Miami for a title. If he didn’t get it in 2012, then there would have been a lot of questions about his mentality.
But he was brilliant as he put up a triple-double. His 26 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds were massive in the Heats’ victory. James was as relieved as anybody else after finally achieving his dream. Few things can beat that feeling as he won the Finals MVP award.
We’ve talked about the achievement of winning a second title in a row. But now let’s focus on his Game Seven against the San Antonio Spurs. James was breathtaking. King James scored 37 points as he inspired his team to the win. LeBron effectively scored the winner with less than 30 seconds left to play.
He also added 12 rebounds and five assists in a spectacular performance. Meanwhile, he earned his second straight Finals MVP award win. This was a phenomenal display from a legend of the game. This should have kicked off a dynasty like the Bulls, but we all know what happened next.
Of course, this has to be the greatest moment in King James’s back catalog. After four years in Miami, the prodigal son returned home. Furthermore, he inspired them to the NBA Finals in 2015 but they couldn’t get past the Golden State Warriors. However, a year later they were back again.
It was Game 7 and the Championship was on the edge of a knife. After two scintillating 41-point performances in the previous two games, LeBron had one more massive contribution. Just when Andre Iguodala looked like he was about to score, LeBron blocked the shot. Then Kyrie Irving went the other way and the rest is history,