The Top 10 Plays of LeBron James' Career

John Friel@@JohnFtheheatgodAnalyst ISeptember 7, 2011

The Top 10 Plays of LeBron James' Career

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    Criticize LeBron James all you want, it doesn't take anything away from one of the best athletes the game has ever been witness to.

    Whether he's wearing the maroon and gold of the Cleveland Cavaliers or the red and black of the Miami Heat, James has entertained us with the intensity that he delivers to every game and has proven to us time and time again why he is considered at least one of the three best players in the league.

    He's an all-around athlete who can score from anywhere on the court at any given moment while also playing better perimeter defense than most other wing defenders.

    James has been lighting up the court since he was taken out of high school in 2003 as an 18-year-old phenom. He took the league by storm then, and he's continued to have a firm grasp of it since his first days in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform. Today, he's the same player he was then, except with more athleticism, a better understanding of the game and a different uniform.

    He has two MVPs to his name and could be due for more by the time his career nears its close. James was a part of two of the most successful Cavalier teams in the franchise's 40-year history, and was most recently a part of the second-best Miami Heat team in its franchise history as well. Wherever James has spent time out, it has turned to gold with expected results.

    The only accolade he is missing at this point is a championship ring, which could come in the very near future if he continues to develop alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

    He has completed some of the most memorable plays in the NBA since 2003, as we bring you the 10 best highlights of LeBron James' career.

10. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Connect for Their Best Alley-Oop Throw Down

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    The combination of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have already completed feats that have dropped our jaws and had us racing to YouTube to catch their highlights as soon as they are posted.

    Any one of their alley-oop connections could have made it at this particular spot. Their alley-oops against Boston, Indiana and New York were all deserving adversaries, but their connection early in the season against the New Jersey Nets was easily their best by far.

    With James starting the fast break, he sent it out to a wide open Wade who could have very easily finished with a quality slam. Instead, Wade took it under the rim, garnered some attention and threw it up to the cutting James who finished it with authority.

9. LeBron James Lays the Smackdown on Delonte West

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    Ouch, maybe this is how that whole rumor of Delonte West and LeBron James' mother started.

    West realized that this dunk would be replayed over and over again for the sheer magnitude of the poster that he was just placed on courtesy of LeBron James. So he concocted this rumor between himself and James' mother and that took some of the attention away from this nasty poster he was placed on.

    Or I could just be making this all up...yeah, I'm making it all up.

    It was a sure-fire way to make James the embarrassed one. The only problem is that we have documented proof of West getting dunked on, and none for that extremely awkward rumor.

8. LeBron James Comes from out of Nowhere to Dunk It on Amare Stoudemire

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    I wasn't sure whether to include this dunk since he completed it against that gauntlet of a defense in Phoenix, but it was such a dynamic poster that I felt like it had to be included.

    LeBron shows off his lightning-quick speed and thunderous power all in one sequence as he comes from out of nowhere to grab the ball in the open court, runs to the rim with little resistance and then promptly slams it over former Sun, Amare Stoudemire.

    The slam is impressive, but what was with the defense? Channing Frye looks like he's playing the same defense that Prince and the Revolution did against Charlie Murphy while Amare Stoudemire tries to give James a hug in mid-air.

    Had the Suns actually played defense, this poster would've been a lot higher.

7. LeBron James Pulls a Steve Nash with His Pass to Erick Dampier

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    We can thank Erick Dampier and his inability to play offense for this unbelievable highlight.

    After Amare Stoudemire blocks Dampier's shot, he then promptly turns it over after James throws his arms up and sends the ball airborne towards himself.

    Without letting the ball touch the ground, James grabs the ball and throws it behind his head towards a wide open Dampier who then slams it in for the easiest two points he'll ever have.

6. LeBron James Tells Jason Richardson to Quit Showboating

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    Save it for the dunk contest, Jason Richardson—you're playing an actual regulation NBA game and your team's down by two points in the middle of the fourth quarter.

    After a James miss from three, the Suns outlet it to a wide open Richardson who has a guaranteed two points in front of him if he does a simple lay-in or dunk. Instead, he showboats by attempting a 360 for the flashy two. What he isn't aware of, is that James has worked his way up court and was breathing down his neck, waiting for Richardson to make a mistake.

    James saw the time to strike and he managed to block the dunk. The block then led to a wide-open three-pointer on the other end which turned a potential tied game into a five-point lead for the Cavaliers.

    For those who want to complain about James fouling Richardson, maybe J-Rich shouldn't attempt a 360 dunk during a dire moment of the game.

5. LeBron James Dunks on Damon Jones' Ancestors

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    Damon Jones must have a Napoleon complex because there's no honest way that he thought he could have deterred a 6'8" monster with momentum from finishing the fast break with authority.

    At 6'3", Jones has averaged a grand total of zero blocks per game for his career. In total, he has blocked 20 shots in between 1998 and 2009 and averaged 0.1 blocks per game only twice during his NBA tenure.

    This is one of James' top poster dunks and it comes courtesy of the misjudgment and questionable reasoning of Damon Jones. By jumping into James, he made this poster a lot more impressive than it should have ever been.

4. LeBron James Nets His First Game-Winner Against Golden State

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    LeBron James' first buzzer-beating game-winner took a few seasons, but he managed to get it in impressive fashion against the Golden State Warriors.

    With his team down by one and a 6'11" center defending him near the perimeter, James crosses Ronny Turiaf over to get some room, steps back and shoots the 20-foot jumper with only 0.2 seconds remaining to just barely beat the buzzer.

    James, of course, hits the jumper and gives the Cavaliers a 106-105 victory to stun the Warriors and their surprisingly pro-Cleveland crowd.

3. LeBron James Welcomes James Johnson to His Kodak Moment

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    LeBron James' most intense poster by far, poor James Johnson had no idea what he had coming when he allowed the superstar to beat him off the dribble.

    This occurred early during the Cleveland Cavaliers' and Chicago Bulls' first-round series in 2010 and it was one of James' last great memories while wearing a Cavs uniform. It only took one quick move for James to work his way past Johnson and gain the open lane and advantage on offense.

    Instead of admitting defeat, the rookie decided to chase James down and attempt to block him. What he didn't realize was that he was chasing LeBron James down and nothing good could come out of attempting to deter James when he's already set on throwing down a thunderous dunk.

    Johnson now lives in seclusion in Toronto.

2. LeBron James with No Regard for Human Life!

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    This isn't nearly as impressive as the dunk he had on James Johnson, but the implications of when this dunk occurred is what sets this poster apart from every other that James has had in his career.

    This took place during the Cavaliers' semifinals series against the Boston Celtics in 2008. The Cavs were fresh off of their first championship appearance in finals history, but the Celtics were still the favorite since they had picked up Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen during the offseason.

    The Cavs were out-matched, but they had heart as they worked their way back from a 2-0 deficit to win Game 3 at home. They held a seven-point lead with a little less than two minutes remaining and needed to deliver the dagger if they wanted to close out a dangerous Celtics team that was two series away from winning the championship.

    After Joe Smith sets a pick on Paul Pierce, James still has to deal with James Posey and Kevin Garnett. He delivers a beautiful fake on Posey to get him leaning on the wrong side, and then it's just Garnett keeping James from the rim. LeBron went up with full power and intensity and delivered the hammer upon Garnett's head to put the lead at an insurmountable nine.

    The Celtics would win in seven games, but it was at this point that the Cavaliers organization decided to give "The King" a little help for the future.

1. LeBron James Hits the Game Winner of His Life

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    About two years before LeBron James departed for the sunny shores of South Beach, he pulled off one of the NBA's greatest all-time postseason buzzer-beating game winners.

    The Cavaliers were already in trouble after dropping their first game at home and were in even more trouble once Hedo Turkoglu hit a go-ahead floater to put the Orlando Magic up by two points with one second remaining. With the Cavs facing the possibility of going down 2-0 with two games in Orlando to look forward to, the team needed a hero and the only player even capable of making a shot to put the team ahead was LeBron James.

    James had only made one buzzer-beating game winner before, and that was during a regular season game that made it fourth on this stupendous list.

    The team only had time to inbound it and then deliver a quick shot, so they decided to send it in to James who was a foot beyond the three-point arc with 6'10" Turkoglu and 6'11" Rashard Lewis draped over him. LeBron turned towards the basket, quickly threw up the basket, and watched as it miraculously dropped through the bucket to give the Cavs a 96-95 victory to tie the series at one game apiece.

    Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, they would ultimately lose in six games. Fortunately for the rest of us, we have this lasting memory of James and the greatest play of his career and one of the best in the history of the game.