LeBron James' Greatest NBA Playoff Moments
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
The greatest moments in LeBron James' playoff career include a combination of historic highlights and epic performances.
From recording a triple-double in his first-ever playoff game, to hitting a game-winning shot to beat the Orlando Magic, James' postseason career had spanned 115 games heading into the 2012-13 campaign.
This list is measuring each of those postseason moments in terms of overall significance and importance at the time when they occurred.
No. 10: First Player Since Magic Johnson to Triple-Double in NBA Playoff Debut
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James circa 2006
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
He joined Magic, who accomplished the feat in 1980, along with Johnny McCarthy, who did so in 1960, as the only three players in NBA history to ever register a triple-double in their first playoff game.
For some additional perspective, Magic finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 16 assists while McCarthy went for 13, 11 and 11.
James, to reiterate, scored 32 points in his franchise's first playoff game since 1998.
No. 9: LeBron Leads Newly Formed "Big Three" to OT Win over Celtics
Miami Heat's LeBron James
While logging a game-high 50 minutes, LeBron James finished with 35 points and 14 rebounds to lead all players in each category while securing the 98-90 Game 4 win in overtime.
As the NBA universe watched to see exactly how James, Wade and Bosh could all work together, James dominated the game while his superstar teammates added 28 and 20 points, respectively.
No. 8: Kevin Harlan: "LeBron James, with No Regard for Human Life!"
LeBron James dunks on Boston Celtics circa 2008
Leading the Boston Celtics by a score of 82-75 during Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals, LeBron James was handling the basketball at the top of the key for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After receiving a screen at the three-point line, James drove right in search of the basket.
By pausing the video above at the 12-second mark, it is clear that two Celtics' defenders were standing near the key waiting for James to attack the basket.
Kevin Garnett, a third defender, steps into the play from the weakside to help out defensively on James.
Then, in the words of Kevin Harlan, LeBron finishes off the dunk "with no regard for human life," to give his team a nine-point lead.
The Cavs won the game 88-77 to even the series at 2-2, though they'd eventually lose in seven games.
James led all scorers with 21 points, 13 assists and six rebounds.
No. 7: Game 7 Duel with Paul Pierce and the Celtics
Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce, Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
On May 18, 2008, LeBron James gave Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics everything they could handle in a 97-92 Game 7 loss.
James and Pierce went basket-for-basket, shot-for-shot in an epic duel that saw the two superstars combine for 86 points on the night.
LeBron would get the better of the individual battle with 45 points of his own, as compared to 41 from Pierce.
Unfortunately for James and the Cavaliers, Delonte West, who scored 15 points, was the only other player on the Cleveland side to hit for double-figures.
Kevin Garnett, meanwhile, turned in a 13-point effort in support of Pierce, while P.J. Brown came off the bench to score 10 in helping the C's to the victory.
No. 6: James Hits Game-Winner to Beat Wizards in First Playoff Series
Baseline game-winner against Washington Wizards
With 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime against the Washington Wizards in 2006, LeBron James converted this layup to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 121-120 Game 5 win.
After receiving the inbound pass from Larry Hughes with three seconds to play, James appeared to be initially trapped in the corner before navigating his way to the basket.
Those final points gave James a game-high 45 on the night—one more than Wizards' guard Gilbert Arenas—to go along with seven rebounds and six assists.
This victory would eventually lead to the first playoff series that James ever won, closed out a game later after Damon Jones hit a jumper to clinch Game 6.
No. 5: James Returns to Hit Big Three During Game 4 of 2012 NBA Finals
James hits three during Game 4 of 2012 NBA Finals
With just under six minutes remaining, LeBron James was forced to leave Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals with leg cramps.
He eventually returned—with the score tied 94-94—and knocked down this go-ahead three-pointer with 2:56 to play.
LeBron finished with 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds to lead his team in each category. He attempted four three-point field-goals on the game, too, making only the one that mattered most.
No. 4: LeBron Hits Game-Winner to Beat Orlando Magic in 2009
LeBron James makes game-winner to beat Orlando Magic
After losing Game 1 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals to the Orlando Magic, by a score of 107-106, the Cleveland Cavaliers found themselves trailing 95-93 with one second remaining in Game 2.
With Mo Williams triggering the side out-of-bounds play, LeBron James started at the right elbow.
He broke toward the basket before coming to the top of the key to receive the pass from Williams.
Despite missing the two other three-point field-goals he attempted that night, James caught the pass and knocked down the buzzer-beating three to give Cleveland a one-point victory.
He finished with a game-high 35 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds.
The Magic, however, eventually won the series in six.
No. 3: James Joins Wilt Chamberlain with 45, 15 and 5
Miami Heat's LeBron James
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Before LeBron James and the Miami Heat ever matched up with the Oklahoma City Thunder for a chance to win the 2012 NBA championship, the Heat were facing elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
After trailing 0-2, the Boston Celtics had just won three-straight games to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
James would rally to lead his team to a 98-79 win, however, on the strength of a historic performance.
LeBron finished with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists, joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only two players in NBA history to ever post a 45-15-5 line in a playoff game.
Dwyane Wade was the only other Heat player in double figures on the night with 17; the next highest scorer was Rajon Rondo with 21.
No. 2: Clinching First NBA Championship with a Triple-Double
Miami Heat's LeBron James
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James recorded a triple-double in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals while leading the Miami Heat to a series-clinching 121-106 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He finished with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds on his way to being named Finals MVP.
In response to questions about his ability to deliver on championship expectations, James came through in dominating fashion on the NBA's biggest stage.
No. 1: James Scores 29 of Cavs Final 30 Points to Beat Pistons in 2007
LeBron James beats Pistons in Game 5
The greatest overall performance of LeBron James' postseason career was and forever will be Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals.
Unlike any other superstar performance I've ever seen in the postseason, James was simply relentless in attacking the Pistons' defense on his way to scoring a game-high 48 points.
His next closest Cavaliers teammate in the scoring column that night was Zydrunas Ilgauskas with 16.
James scored in every way imaginable down the stretch—from thunderous slams to step-back three-pointers—and gave his team a 3-2 advantage in the series with the win.
The Cavaliers would eventually close Detroit out at home in Game 6 on LeBron's way to making his first appearance in the NBA Finals.