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When discussing LeBron James, one could easily dive into a plethora of topics. There’s the ongoing and seemingly never-ending GOAT debate involving him and Michael Jordan or just his overall place among the all-time NBA greats.

You could discuss his 18 All-Star Game appearances or his record 18 All-NBA selections. Or perhaps his 10 appearances in the NBA Finals, winning championships with three different franchises, or his pair of Olympic gold medals. Trust me. I could go on for quite a while.

But today, we’re taking things in a different direction as we put the focus on a specific aspect of LeBron James’ legendary career — how he’s fared on NBA Opening Night.

2022 marked LeBron’s 20th season opener, and he’s now averaging 25.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.1 steals, and just under one block per game.

So what was James’ best outing to open a season?

What was LeBron James’ best performance on NBA Opening Night?

Taking only points into account, the best NBA Opening night performance LeBron James ever had was a 38-point outburst against the Boston Celtics to kick off the 2009-10 campaign, the final season of his first run with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James shot 12-for-22 from the floor that night, hit four of nine from the 3-point line, and made 10 of 13 free throws. But it wasn’t enough, as the Cavs still took the loss, 95-89.

In terms of overall performance, LeBron’s best game to open a new year was the triple-double he posted against the Knicks to start the 2016-17 campaign, the penultimate season of his second run in Cleveland. James recorded 19 points, shooting an efficient 9-for-14 from the field, and added 14 assists, 11 rebounds, and a steal in a 117-88 blowout victory.

One could also argue for his outing one year later, his final season with the Cavs, when he posted 29 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists, and two blocks in a 102-99 win over Boston.

And what was his worst?

LeBron James collage with the Cavaliers, Heat, and Lakers
(L-R) LeBron James with the Cavaliers circa 2009; LeBron James with the Heat circa 2012; LeBron James with the Lakers circa 2019 | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images; Doug Pensinger/Getty Images; Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

As far as the worst season opener of James’ career, that was an easy call.

Kicking off the 2007-08 campaign, the season after the Cavs were swept in the NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs, LeBron had an abysmal opening outing against the Dallas Mavericks.

In an ugly 92-74 loss, James made just two of 11 shots from the floor, missing both of his 3-point attempts, and hit six of 10 free throws to finish with 10 points, adding just four assists and five rebounds in 36 minutes.

But he bounced back nicely in his second game, dropping 45 points on the Knicks with seven dimes and seven boards in a 110-106 win.

Every LeBron James NBA Opening Night performance


What Was Michael Jordan’s Best NBA Opening Night Performance?

Here’s a quick look at every NBA Opening Night performance from LeBron James.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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