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Photo: Hannah Much/VOX ATL

LeBron James Has Been ‘The King’ Since Before I Was Born

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LeBron James has been celebrated a lot in recent weeks for setting the all-time NBA scoring record. A record that was set by NBA Hall of Fame player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar six months before LeBron was born, and stood for 39 years until James broke it on February 7, 2023. At 38 years old and in his 20th season, LeBron is still as dominant as he was when he was 18. It is even crazier to imagine that he might be able to play in the NBA at the same time as his oldest son, Bronny James, who is currently projected as a top 10 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

So much has happened since he started his NBA career in 2003. For starters, I was not even born yet when he entered the league. LeBron James was also drafted into the NBA the season after Michael Jordan retired from the league. 

Here are some more historical things that have happened since LeBron James aka “King James” aka “The Chosen One” made the jump from high school to being the #1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Four Presidents and Multiple Catastrophes

Since LeBron has been playing in the NBA, there have been four different presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, one who I would rather not mention, and Joe Biden. During that time, the United States elected their first ever Black president (twice) and made gay marriage legal. We’ve also suffered through Hurricane Katrina and navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Technology

When LeBron came into the league, Netflix was still a DVD rental service; it did not become a streaming service until four years into his career. The Apple iPhone was not invented until four seasons into his NBA career. Because of that, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter did not exist at the start of his career. Instagram was released during LeBron’s first season playing for the Miami Heat.

Like Father, Like Son

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In a recent NBA game, Jabari Smith Jr. reminded LeBron, “You played against my dad in your first NBA game ever, Sacramento.” LeBron responded, “Why you do that to me?” and Smith said, “You feel old, don’t you?” This statement made LeBron feel old and reflect on all of the father-son duos he played against in the NBA. LeBron played against 9 of these duos: Kenyon and KJ Martin, Gary Trent Sr. and Gary Trent Jr., Gary Payton and Gary Payton II, Rick and Jalen Brunson, Glenn Robinson Jr. and Glen Robinson III, Adrian Griffin Sr. and Adrian Griffin Jr., Glen Rice Sr. and Glen Rice Jr., Jabari Smith Sr. and Jabari Smith Jr., and Samaki and Jabari Walker.

LeBron’s goal is to play in the NBA with his oldest son Bronny James before he retires. Bronny is currently a high school senior, meaning that LeBron would be turning 40 years old that year. 

To add some more context, at the beginning of LeBron’s career, he was a teammate with Shaquille O’Neal on the Cleveland Cavaliers. O’Neal’s son played for the Los Angeles Lakers’ developmental team in 2022. 

Pop Culture

To give you a sense of how long it has been since LeBron was drafted, you can look back and see that Justin Timberlake was considered the top male artist of the year. The top artist of the year now is Drake, who released his first album three years into LeBron’s career. 

2003 was also a big year for movies. In this first year of his career, some movies that were released include “Finding Nemo,” “Daddy Daycare,” “The Hulk,”  “School of Rock,” and “Bad Santa.” Six of eight “Harry Potter” movies have been released while he has been playing professionally.

It is crazy to see how long he has been in the NBA and how much has happened during his career. His career is very inspiring because not only is he a great basketball player, but he has done so many good deeds and never forgotten where he came from. LeBron created the LeBron James Family Foundation which gives money to various charities, and funded a public elementary school in his hometown Akron, Ohio called the I Promise School, which is aimed for at-risk kids.

Not bad for a guy who claims to be “just a kid from Akron.”

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