How Many Years Has Lebron Been In The NBA? A Look At His 2 Plus Decades Long Legendary Resume

How many years has Lebron been in the NBA can be answered by combining his time with Cleveland, Miami and Los Angeles.

LeBron James is one of the greatest athletes of all time, and arguably the best basketball player the NBA has ever seen. Lately, many basketball fans have been asking themselves, “How many years has LeBron been in the NBA?”, as his longevity continues to amaze year after year.

Although other great players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Garnett played many seasons as well, their production declined significantly toward the end of their careers. James, on the other hand, has continued to put up stellar stats season after season.

2 Decades Of Counting How Many Years Has Lebron Been In The NBA

For those asking, “How many years has LeBron been in the NBA?”, it is important to note that LeBron has officially passed 2 decades of play in the NBA, with the 2023-2024 season being his 21st in the league. Drafted in 2003, James was a part of the legendary 2003 NBA Draft class that has already had 2 members inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

He was the #1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, a historically struggling organization that was looking for a fresh start. James’ career can be broken down into 4 separate sections, his 1st stint with Cleveland, his move to Miami, his return to Cleveland, and his most recent move to Los Angeles.

Cleveland Cavaliers – 2003-2004 to 2009-2010

LeBron James burst quickly onto the scene as soon as he joined the Cavs, winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award and helping the team improve their win total by 18 games from the previous season. In just his 4th season in the NBA, he helped lead the Cavs to their first Finals appearance in franchise history in 2007. Those who may have questioned his youth at the time, and asked, “How many years has LeBron been in the NBA?” had to be impressed by his postseason performance that year.

He also won 2 of his 4 MVP awards with the Cavaliers in 2009 and 2010, cementing his status as the league’s best player. However, the Cavaliers’ front office was repeatedly unable to put a good supporting cast around James, prompting him to leave the organization for a more supportive franchise.

Miami Heat – 2010-2011 to 2013-2014

James received much criticism for leaving the Cavaliers and joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a Big 3 for the Miami Heat. Many thought he should have stayed and been loyal to Cleveland, his hometown. However, many of his critics probably should have asked themselves, “How many years has LeBron been in the NBA?”, which would have caused them to realize that LeBron had already spent 7 seasons with the Cavaliers, giving them plenty of time to build around him.

He would go on to win 2 more MVP awards with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013. He also led them to the NBA Finals all 4 years he spent with the team, including winning 2 championship rings and 2 Finals MVP awards.

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Cleveland Cavaliers #2 – 2014-2015 to 2017-2018

Having won 2 titles with the Miami Heat, James returned to the Cavaliers with the express purpose of bringing a championship to his hometown of Cleveland. He was probably asking himself, “How many years has LeBron been in the NBA?”, noting that he was probably nearing the end of his prime years and wanted to try and win a title with Cleveland as soon as possible.

It didn’t take him long to do so, as Cleveland would win the title during the 2015-2016 season, after coming back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors. The 73-9 Warriors were considered heavy favorites, but LeBron rose to the occasion, putting on an incredible performance and winning his 3rd Finals MVP award.

Los Angeles Lakers – 2018-2019 to Present

LeBron James played in the Eastern Conference for the first 15 years of his career, making the NBA Finals in 9 of those 15 seasons. Several general managers of opposing teams in the East were probably asking themselves “How many years has LeBron been in the NBA?” after Lebron made his 8th consecutive trip to the Finals in the 2017-2018 season. However, he opted to sign with the Lakers in the Western Conference, seeing Los Angeles as a great environment for both his basketball and business interests.

Although his first season with the team ended in disappointment, as the Lakers missed the playoffs, James led to Lakers to their 17th title in franchise history during the 2019-2020 season. He won his 4th Finals MVP, becoming the 1st player in NBA history to win this award with 3 different franchises.

LeBron James Game Postgame Interview – 2023 WCF

Although Lebron’s game is still elite, his career is most likely nearing its end in the next couple of seasons. Probably the biggest news surrounding him came after the Lakers’ defeat during the 2023 Western Conference Finals.

During the postgame interview, he alluded to retirement, causing some media outlets to speculate that he was seriously considering walking away from the game. Again, when asking “How many years has LeBron been in the NBA?”, many pundits would note that 20 years is a long time to play. However, he ended any doubts about his future playing days soon after, announcing at the ESPYS that he would indeed return for another season.

“How many years has LeBron been in the NBA?” is becoming an increasingly asked question in the sports world as LeBron continues to dominate year after year. Entering his 21st season, Lebron will most likely continue to average 27+ PPG, 7+ RPG, and 8+ APG and lead the Lakers to the postseason.

While it will be difficult for the Lakers to surpass Denver or Phoenix during the 2023-2024 season, they will still be a major threat to get to the Western Conference Finals. LeBron has had a legendary career that will to some, go down in history as one of the best, or perhaps the best sports career ever.