On Oct. 29, 2003, another man who needs no introduction played in his first-ever NBA game.
The No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, LeBron James made his highly-anticipated NBA debut on the road against the Sacramento Kings. The Cleveland Cavaliers lost by double figures, but James lived up to the hype with 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals in 42 minutes of play, doing so on 12-for-20 shooting from the field.
James got off to a hot start, scoring 12 of his game-high 25 points in the first quarter. He also recorded three of his nine assists and three of his four steals in the opening frame.
"It was the first I've seen of him, and I was real impressed," said Sacramento centre Vlade Divac. "He's the real deal."
17 years ago today ... The King made his NBA debut:- ESPN (@espn) October 29, 2020
👑 25 PTS
👑 6 REB
👑 9 AST
👑 4 STL
Not bad for an 18-year-old kid from Akron, OH. @KingJames pic.twitter.com/XyQioAP2QO
James finished his rookie season averaging 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game. According to Stathead, he's one of only five players in NBA history to average 20-5-5 as a rookie, the others being Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Tyreke Evans and Luka Doncic. James was named Rookie of the Year and made the All-Rookie First Team alongside Kirk Hinrich, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.
In the years since, James has put himself in the GOAT discussion with 16 All-Star selections, 16 All-NBA selections, four MVPs, four championships and four Finals MVPs to his name. He ranks eighth all-time in minutes played, fourth in field goals made, fifth in free throws made, eighth in assists, 13th in steals, third in scoring and fifth in triple-doubles.
James isn't close to being done either. He's coming off of a season that saw him lead the league with 10.2 assists per game and lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their first championship in a decade, becoming the fourth player to win a championship with three different teams and the first to win Finals MVP with three different teams along the way.
That James is still arguably the best player in the league 18 years after making his debut is nothing short of incredible.
Also on Oct. 29...
- 1961: Oscar Robertson dished out 22 assists in a win over the Syracuse Nationals
- 1965: Sam Jones scored 51 points in a loss to the Detroit Pistons
- 1966: Rick Barry scored 57 points in a win over the Cincinnati Royals
- 1977: Rick Barry scored 51 points in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers
- 1978: Robert Parish blocked 11 shots in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers
- 1982: Dominique Wilkins and James Worthy made their NBA debuts
- 1983: Ralph Sampson made his NBA debut
- 2002: Manu Ginobili made his NBA debut
- 2003: In addition to James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh made their NBA debuts
- 2008: Goran Dragic, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook made their NBA debuts
- 2010: Rajon Rondo dished out 24 assists in a win over the New York Knicks
- 2018: Klay Thompson set an NBA record with 14 made 3s in a win over the Chicago Bulls
- 2019: Anthony Davis set an NBA record with 18 free throws in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies
Yeah ... quite a lot.
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