LeBron James has been one of the best basketball players on the planet for most of his career. Of course, as he has gotten older, James has had to change the way he plays, but age hasn’t kept him from still being the best player on the floor pretty much every night. So, at what stage of James’ career was he at his very best? When was he “peak LeBron James”? His former teammate on the Miami Heat Chris Bosh recently gave his answer.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh won championships together on the Heat
LeBron James and Chris Bosh were two of the best players in the NBA in 2010. James had led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a lot of success, while Bosh was a stellar big man for the Toronto Raptors. They then joined their friend Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat in 2010-11, creating the big three.
Those Heat teams were ultimately some of the best teams of all-time. They even reached the NBA Finals in their first year together before eventually losing to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.
That loss to the Mavericks, though, seemed to then light a fire that led to the Heat winning back-to-back NBA championships. Miami first won in the Finals over the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2011-12. They then won their second title over the San Antonio Spurs in 2012-13.
James, Bosh, Wade, and the Heat ultimately went back to the NBA Finals in 2013-14, their fourth straight trip, but the Spurs got their revenge as they won the series in five games.
James then went back to the Cavaliers in 2014-15. He eventually made four more consecutive NBA Finals appearances with them and won another championship with the Cavs in 2016. Now, he plays with the LA Lakers, and they are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Chris Bosh revealed when James was ‘peak LeBron’
Bosh, who has not played in the NBA since 2015-16 because of his battle with blood clots, recently went on JJ Redick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast. Redick ultimately asked him if James was “peak LeBron” when he was in Miami.
“Yeah, I have to argue, I think he’s transformed so many times, but I feel that second year — he was on another planet,” Bosh said. “It got to the point where we were just [like], ‘I’m a pretty good basketball player, but I’m kind of just watching him do his thing right now because I don’t know what the hell is going on.'”
In James’ first championship year with the Miami Heat, he averaged 27.1 points per game, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists, and he shot 53.1% from the field. During the second championship year, James averaged 26.8 points per game, eight rebounds, and 7.3 assists. James also shot 56.5% from the field that year.
“He was like shooting 60% for weeks,” Bosh said. “He was very, very motivated to be successful. I think us as a unit, the way we played the game it allowed him to be successful. Then I think he was able to play off the ball a lot. Once he went to Cleveland, he had the ball in his hands more, and he was asked to do more — still the case in LA, and I don’t know how he keeps up with it.”
Despite Bosh thinking that James was at his best in Miami, he knows that he has been incredible at every stage of his career.
“It’s like One A and One B to me,” Bosh said. “I’ll take his fifth-best career, and that’ll be the best of mine.”
What stage was James really ‘peak LeBron?’
When looking at the stats and the rings, Bosh certainly has a case when arguing that James was at his best in Miami.
He went to four NBA Finals in those four seasons and won two championships. He also averaged 26.9 points per game, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in those seasons. Additionally, James shot 54.3% from the field with the Heat.
James’ first stint in Cleveland was from 2003-04 through 2009-10, but his numbers weren’t out-of-this-world until his second season. From 2004-05 through 2009-10, James averaged 29 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.1 assists. However, he only shot 48.4% from the field in those years. He ultimately just made one NBA Finals appearance in those seasons too.
During his second stint with the Cavs, in addition to making four NBA Finals appearances and winning one title, James averaged 26.1 points per game, 7.7 rebounds, and eight assists. He also shot 52.6% from the field. So far in two seasons with the Lakers, he has not made the Finals yet, but he has averaged 26.3 points per game, 8.1 rebounds, and 9.3 assists. James has also shot 50.1% from the field.
Based on how well James shot in Miami, and the number of championships he won, “peak LeBron James” might have, in fact, been when he played for the Heat. Every stage of his career, though, has been absolutely incredible.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference