CLEVELAND -- Three years ago today, the Cleveland sports landscape changed for the better when Akron native and former St. Vincent-St. Mary High School standout LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers after a four-year run with the Miami Heat.
That decision to return to the Cavaliers, the very team that drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, led to the city’s first major championship since 1964 when two summers later, James guided Cleveland to an historic comeback win over the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.
James’ decision to return to Cleveland was announced in a Sports Illustrated article titled, “I’m coming home.”
During his first seven years in Cleveland, James was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, six-time All-Star starter, two-time NBA All-Star MVP, a four-time All-NBA First-Team Selection, 26-time NBA Player of the Week and 15-time NBA Player of the Month.
And the accolades and accomplishments have continued to come James’ way since his return to Cleveland.
For most of his basketball career, James admitted to chasing the ghost of arguably the greatest player in the sport’s history, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.
In one sense, James caught up to at least part of that ghost when he passed Jordan for the most points scored in NBA Playoffs history with a 35-point showing in a 135-102 closeout win over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals on May 25.
Then, against the Warriors, James passed Los Angeles Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson for the most triple-doubles in NBA Finals history.
Despite coming up on the losing end of The Finals for the fifth time in eight trips this past June, James made NBA history, as he averaged a triple-double of points, rebounds and assists over the five games against the Warriors.
James averaged 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists while shooting .564 from the field and .387 from three-point range.
James is the Cavaliers' franchise single-season leader in points scored (2,478 in 2005-2006), minutes played (3,388 in 2004-2005), field goals attempted (1,823) and made (875 in 2005-2006), free throws attempted (814) and made (601 in 2005-2006), and scoring average (31.4 points per game in 2005-2006).
In 767 regular-season games with the Cavaliers, James reset franchise records for the most points scored (20,868), scoring average (27.2 points per game), field goals made (7,512) and attempted (15,442), free throws made (4,742) and attempted (6,467), three-pointers attempted (3,307) and made (1,102), assists (5,481), defensive rebounds (4,545), steals (1,260), minutes played (30,104) and minutes per game (39.2).
In addition to his regular-season records, James is the Cavaliers' franchise leader in points scored (3,825), scoring average (29.4 points per game), assists (990), field goals made (1,353) and attempted (2,849), free throws made (911) and attempted (1,253), three-pointers made (208) and attempted (650), defensive rebounds (992), total rebounds (1,188), steals (234) and minutes played (5,499) over 130 postseason games.
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