LeBron James has cemented his status as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and his time with the Los Angeles Lakers has been nothing short of remarkable. Throughout his tenure with the Lakers, James has delivered game-winning shots and shattered records, leaving a lasting legacy on the team’s history.
While narrowing down James’ most incredible moments with the Lakers was no easy feat, we have compiled a list of his top 5 most iconic performances. But before diving into the highlights, let’s look at three incredible moments that just missed the cut.
Passing Wilt Chamberlain: In a game against the Denver Nuggets on March 6, 2019, LeBron James passed Wilt Chamberlain to become the fourth-highest scorer in the history of the NBA. He finished the game with 31 points, bringing his career total to 31,424 points.
Christmas Miracle: On Christmas Day in 2018, LeBron James led the Lakers to a stunning upset over the Golden State Warriors, the reigning champions. The best sports betting sites had the Lakers as +9 underdogs. James had 17 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists in the 127-101 victory.
NBA Finals Triple-Double: One of James’ greatest strengths as a player is his ability to do it all on the court. He can score, rebound, and pass with equal proficiency, and that was on full display in Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals. With the Lakers up 3-1 in the series, James put up a triple-double with 28 points, 14 rebounds, and ten assists. He was instrumental in the Lakers’ 111-108 victory, which gave them a commanding 4-1 series lead.
1. Passing Kobe Bryant
On January 25th, 2020, LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. The moment was especially poignant because Bryant, who spent his 20-year career with the Lakers, had died in a helicopter crash just a few days earlier. James accomplished the feat during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, and he did it with a classic LeBron move: a powerful dunk. The crowd at the Staples Center erupted in applause as James was honored with a standing ovation, and he later spoke about the significance of passing Bryant on the list. “It’s just too much. It’s too much. The story is too much. It doesn’t make sense,” James said.
2. Game-Winner against the Clippers
On March 8th, 2020, the Lakers faced off against their crosstown rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers. The game was tightly contested, with both teams trading blows throughout the fourth quarter. With just 12 seconds left on the clock, the score was tied at 103-103. That’s when James took over. He dribbled the ball up the court, shook off a defender, and sank a step-back three-pointer with just 2.1 seconds left on the clock. The shot gave the Lakers a 106-103 lead, and they went on to win the game. It was a signature moment for James, who had come to the Lakers to bring them back to championship glory.
3. The Laker’s 2020 NBA Championship
After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA resumed its season in a “bubble” in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers were one of the top teams in the league, and they proved it by advancing to the NBA Finals. They faced off against the Miami Heat, with James facing his former team. James dominated the series, averaging 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game. He led the Lakers to a 4-2 series victory, securing his fourth NBA championship and first with the Lakers. James was named the Finals MVP and dedicated the win to Bryant, saying, “I know he’s looking down on us, proud of us.”
4. Becomes NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer
In a historic moment for the NBA, LeBron James has surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the league’s all-time leading scorer. James achieved the milestone during the Los Angeles Lakers game against the Oklahoma Thunder on February 7th, 2023. The four-time NBA champion entered the game just 15 points shy of Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387 career points, and he surpassed it with a fallaway 15-footer in the final seconds of the third quarter. With this accomplishment, James solidified his place in basketball history as one of the greatest players. Fans and fellow players took to social media to congratulate James on this incredible achievement.
5. Scoring 46 points against the Cavaliers
On November 21, 2018, LeBron James returned to Cleveland, Ohio, to play against his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The game was highly anticipated, marking James’ first game back in Cleveland since leaving the team in 2018. James did not disappoint, putting on a spectacular performance and leading the Lakers to a hard-fought 109-105 victory over the Cavaliers.
James’ dominance on the court was on full display throughout the game, as he scored an impressive 46 points, grabbed six rebounds, and dished out two assists. He was particularly effective from beyond the arc, hitting 5 of his ten three-point attempts, and was also aggressive in driving to the basket, drawing fouls, and making 9 of his ten free-throw attempts. His scoring outburst in this game was yet another reminder of his status as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and his impact on the game was felt by both his teammates and opponents alike.