In the 2012-2013 season, LeBron James should’ve been the first unanimous MVP ever. Instead, he was robbed by a biased Gary Washburn, who came to the conclusion that giving Carmelo Anthony his first place MVP vote was a logical decision. Washburn was the lone voter amongst 121 who didn’t give his first place vote to LeBron. That aside, LeBron should’ve won Defensive Player of the Year, but he finished runner-up to Marc Gasol who didn’t even make the All-Defensive 1st team. This was the greatest season ever and will probably never be topped. LeBron should’ve been the first unanimous MVP ever and DPOY. He was an NBA champion, Finals MVP and had the 7th highest PER ever in a season along with the second highest win streak ever in a season.
In the 2012-2013 NBA regular season, LeBron James averaged 26.8 points, 8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game on 56.5% shooting from the field.
Here is a list of players to average that stat line for a season on 55 FG% or higher:
1. LeBron James
Furthermore, LeBron’s 3FG% of 40.6% is the highest for any player that averaged at least 25PPG and 7APG for a season in NBA history. This just goes to show how no player ever has posted averages like LeBron’s with anything close to his level of efficiency.
LeBron ranked top 25 in most major categories. He finished 3rd in the league in total points, 16th in defensive rebounds, 8th in assists, 12th in steals, 5th in FG%, 1st in PER, 1st in OWS, and 10th in DWS. He posted a PER of 31.6 which is the seventh highest ever. This was his sixth consecutive season of leading the league in PER. He also shot better than 40% from the field in 90 of the 99 games he played throughout the regular season and playoffs.
The 2012-2013 NBA season represents peak LeBron. He gives you elite scoring, passing, defense, and efficiency while making everyone on his team substantially better than they would otherwise be. He had the 5th most WS/48, 5th highest BPM, and the 11th highest VORP in NBA history. It was the perfect blend of efficiency and athleticism.
LeBron went on some extraordinary streaks this season. There was Miami’s 27 game win-streak, the second-longest win streak in league history. Then two individual ones stood out. During this season, LeBron went on a streak of six consecutive games where he scored at least 30 points on 60% shooting from the field. That is an absurdity in and of itself. The other is how LeBron played six consecutive games without acquiring a foul call. This was not due to a lack of effort on the defensive end. He was playing some of the best defense you could see from any player throughout the course of that season. His dashing rotations, confinement of the passing lanes, and his defensive prowess against all five positions on the court in both the regular season and playoffs have been outdone by few and far between.
LeBron played the best defense all season long and finished runner-up to Marc Gasol who was placed on the All-Defensive 2nd team as Serge Ibaka, and the reigning DPOY Tyson Chandler made the All-Defensive 1st team over him. The Grizzlies finished the season with the best defensive rating in the league as Gasol anchored them. That was the primary factor in the voting process although the Grizzlies were a much more defensive minded team and had the roster to show for it. With an elite defensive backcourt in Tony Allen and Mike Conley with Gasol locking down the paint, it’s hard not to acquire such a great defensive rating of 101.22 as opposed to the Heat’s 104.77. Gasol also had 5.4 DWS as opposed to LeBron’s 4.7. On the defensive end, LeBron spent 9% of his time on the court at center, 82% at power forward, and 9% at small forward. That’s as versatile as a defender gets. When you factor in the influence LeBron had on Miami’s defense, which he made close to three-and-a-half points better defensively when he was on the court while not having other great defensive teammates, and compare it to Gasol’s defensive minded team, it’s not hard to draw the conclusion that LeBron was more deserving of this award.
LeBron acquired his fourth MVP award this season. He put up unprecedented numbers, played phenomenal defense and led the Heat to 66 wins. What might’ve been most impressive about this season, which goes under the radar, was how he made everything look so effortless. He was not going all out every game; it was a rare occurrence if he even did. He was playing basketball at its most dazzling form, a way in which fans had never seen before. He was an unstoppable force of basketball efficiency.
LeBron was just a different beast this year. He would drive past you, shoot over you, or post you up. He could’ve guarded Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan all in the same game. He was the oracle, borrowing dimensions of other great players to form something never before seen. He was so good this year that he even managed to shun Kevin Durant‘s stellar season from MVP voters completely. Durant averaged 28.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 4.6 APG on 51/42/91 shooting percentages while leading the Thunder to a 60-22 record, the second best in the league. He received no first place MVP votes to show for it.
LeBron’s numbers were staggering but the moments were even greater. The six straight 30 point games on 60% shooting or better which ceased with a 39/12/7 game against the Thunder was outrageous. The great comebacks in Cleveland and Boston, the game winner in Orlando, the dunks, and the whole 27-game winning streak it entailed were all as ludicrous as the next. All of this, and yet there’s still something amazing that people have forgotten about, the greatest calendar month-long performance by an individual in NBA history.
LeBron James had a calendar month for the ages. In February 2013, LeBron led the Heat to a 12-1 record while averaging 29.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game on 64.1% shooting and 43.2% from three. He also became the first person to shoot better than 64% from the field (on at least 200 attempts) over an entire month since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in March 1983. LeBron went on the six-game streak of 30+ points on 60%+ shooting during this month. He also had memorable games such as shooting 13/14 from the field against the Bobcats, obtaining a triple double in 31 minutes of play against the Sixers, and posting a 40 point, 16 rebound and 8 assist game in a double-overtime victory against the Kings.
Post Season Rounds 1-3
The Miami Heat entered the playoffs after a staggering regular season with expectations through the roof. They’ve gone 30-2 since the All-Star break, and they were determined to repeat as NBA champions.
The Heat matched up with the Bucks in the Eastern Conference First Round. This series lasted all of four games. LeBron averaged 24.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game on 62.7% shooting for the series. He put up these remarkable numbers in 36.8 minutes per game with a USG% of 29.4.
After sweeping the Bucks, the Heat went on to face the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. This series lasted a little bit longer than the last, five games. The Bulls made things a bit harder for the Heat, with defensive juggernauts in Noah and Butler, they managed to diminish LeBron’s efficiency quite actually. However, he still managed to put up astounding numbers across the board while being a defensive juggernaut himself. For this series, LeBron averaged 23.6 points, 7 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game while locking down Joakim Noah for the majority of the series. Noah averaged 9.8PPG for this series while shooting 41% from the field (7% worse from his regular season average of 48%). Aside from points per game, LeBron limited Noah in his vital role as an effective passer out of the post. Noah’s assists per game from the regular to this series was cut down from 4 to 2.4. This led to a lot of stagnant possessions for the Bulls, ultimately making it tough to operate offensively, hence three blowout losses.
The Eastern Conference Finals, what a series this was. This was an epic seven-game showdown headlined by the best player in the game and a rising superstar in Paul George. LeBron had a spectacular series averaging 29 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game on 51% shooting. This was all against the Pacers who were the best defensive team in the league this year with a defensive rating of 99.8. These were slow-paced, intense games with an average pace of 84 for the series, which is another reason why LeBron’s numbers are so crazy with the level of defense being played. Game 1 was a well-fought game from start to finish and concluded with LeBron attacking the rim after being inbounded the ball to make a buzzer beater layup to win the game 103-102. The Heat and Pacers made it all through 7 games without either of them winning two in a row. Now, Game 7 is in sight. LeBron showed up to Game 7 and wrecked havoc. He posted 32 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block on 47.1% shooting. Additionally, he made 15/16 free throw attempts (93.8%) and was +21 in the box score. As great as a game he played offensively, his defense was even better. LeBron matched up with Paul George and held him to just 7 points on 22.2% shooting. The Heat have had a breathtaking season thus far, and all that awaited them was one more playoff series.
The NBA Finals
With the 2007 NBA Finals still looming in LeBron’s memory, the stage was set for his revenge six years later. The Spurs were well-rested and with their veteran leadership and experience, they were nothing short of prepared for this important matchup. Built versus bought, their “Big 3’s” collided with vital assistance from role players in a series that consisted of some of the highest level of basketball ever played.
In Game 1 of this series, LeBron posted a triple-double with 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists on 43.8% shooting as the Heat fell short to the Spurs, 92-88. With the Spurs up 90-88, Tony Parker hit an extremely difficult floater off the glass from the pivot position with 5 seconds left as the shot clock expired, ultimately sealing the victory for them. The Spurs played much better team basketball. They had two 20+ point scorers in Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker and their defense were compelling in limiting the Heat to not having any 20 point scorers.
The next two games go by with both teams trading off blowout victories. Duncan and Parker are having an effective series while Danny Green has hit 17/24 three-pointers through the first three games, well on pace to break the record. LeBron also had his famous block on Tiago Splitter in Game 2. The Heat have been struggling as they find themselves down 2-1 in the series and it seems as if a legendary performance from LeBron will be needed if they want to repeat as champions.
Game 4 arrives, and so does the King. LeBron leads the Heat to a 16 point victory to tie the series at 2-2 in his best performance of the four games. He posted 33 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks on 60% shooting. It was the first game of the series where each member of their Big 3 scored at least 20 points and faith in this team had been restored.
With one more game left at home for the Spurs, they retaliated and annihilated. Their starting lineup combined for 107 points, more points than the Heat scored as a team (104). Parker put up 26/5, Ginobili 24/10, Duncan 17/12, Kawhi 16/8, and Green had 24 points and 3 blocks. Danny Green hit his 26th three-pointer in this game, breaking the previous record of 25 three-pointers made by one player in a Finals series. The Heat simply had no answer, even with their Big 3 playing well once again. Danny Green, who no one would’ve expected, was on track to win Finals MVP along with his first NBA championship. They’d just have to close out one more game.
The table has been set for Game 6. The Heat was down 3-2 in the series with the last two games on their home court. Win or go home. They knew it’d take everything and then some to pull off this great feat, LeBron also knew that. The Heat entered the 4th quarter down 10 points. Heat fans were in disarray as they couldn’t bear experiencing another Finals failure. LeBron wasn’t having any of it, entering the 4th Quarter with an unsatisfactory performance as the season was on the line. So he flipped the switch and played like a man possessed. LeBron scored 16 points in this 4th Quarter in one of the greatest clutch performances by a team that the league had ever seen. LeBron hit a 3 to cut it to a one-possession game. On the next possession, Bosh grabbed an offensive board and kicked it out to Ray Allen in the corner to hit a game-tying three with 5 seconds left, eventually forcing overtime. The Heat went up 103-100 in overtime and the game ended with Bosh blocking Danny Green’s running three-pointer in the corner as time expired. It was miraculous as if it was a script written out for this to happen. Mike Miller hit a three with one shoe on, LeBron’s headband fell off in the 4th Quarter, LeBron and Allen’s three’s, Bosh’s rebound and block, the workers bringing out the tape as if the Spurs had won the title, and the list go on. It was one of if not the best basketball game(s) ever played. LeBron finished the game with a 32 point triple double with 10 rebounds and 11 assists, his second triple-double of the series in a memorable clutch performance for the ages. However, they could not celebrate just yet. The job was not complete, and the greatest phrase in sports awaited them, “Game 7.”
The grand finale, Game 7. The most anticipated game of the season. NBA fans were in mass hysteria after the last game, and no one knew what to expect from this one. LeBron knew what needed to be done to come out on top and it started on the defensive end. He needed to stop their facilitator, Tony Parker. So he did. He held Parker to 10 points on 25% shooting and 4 assists, and the Spurs’ offense was not coming easy. Duncan was there to pick up the pieces with 24 points, 12 rebounds and was a menace on defense with 4 steals and a block. LeBron was a man on a mission this game, truly unstoppable. The Heat found themselves up 90-88 with the ball on the final shot clock possession. LeBron came around a screen and buried the game-clinching shot over Kawhi Leonard to increase their lead to 4 points, eventually winning the game as well as the NBA Finals. LeBron finished the game with 37 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals on 52.2% shooting. He also made 5 three-pointers and went 8/8 from the free throw line. Chris Bosh and Ray Allen combined for 0 points in this game, but luckily Dwyane Wade was of great assistance. In both games, when the moment was greatest, he closed the deal and didn’t fail to do so. His Game 6 4th Quarter and game-clinching shot to win Game 7 completely shut down any false narratives that he wasn’t clutch. The Heat repeated as NBA champions while LeBron won his second Finals MVP. None of this would’ve been possible without LeBron playing otherworldly, and he did it all season long. He averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 7 assists and 2.3 steals per game on 44.7% shooting in the 2013 Finals against a great opponent. There was no better way to cap off a season, the greatest season in NBA history.
Playoff Leader, LeBron James
After an unprecedented regular season, LeBron was incredible in the postseason and led the playoffs in the following categories:
Field Goals Made (212)
Free Throws Made (136)
Offensive Win Shares (3.7)
Defensive Win Shares (1.5)
Win Shares (5.2)
Box Plus/Minus (10.2)
Offensive Box Plus/Minus (7.3)
Value Over Replacement Player (2.9)
Minutes Played (960)
In essence, LeBron’s sudden assertiveness turned what looked like a championship for San Antonio with fans leaving the arena, to back to back titles for the four-time league MVP. While being the most critiqued athlete in recent history, during the social media era and with the majority of viewers rooting for him to fail, he delivered. LeBron capped off the greatest regular season ever with a marvelous championship run by defeating a phenomenal San Antonio Spurs team coached by Gregg Popovich. Popovich’s Spurs were 4-0 in Finals matches before this series. The comparisons will never cease, but LeBron cemented himself as one of the best players to ever play the game after this season, and that’s how much Game 7’s outcome was worth regarding the legacy narrative. He won this series with his two best teammates Wade and Bosh, averaging their career-low points per game for a playoff run. In that critical stretch in the early 4th Quarter when the Spurs threatened to run away with the title, Wade was on the bench. Wade and Bosh were fresh out of their primes, but LeBron showed up and obliterated the sound, smart San Antonio defense. This was the LeBron James that only the hourglass could stop. The greatest individual season ever.