Recognize Greatness: Here’s a Look Back at LeBron James’ Iconic SLAM Covers Over the Years
With his family in attendance, LeBron James drained a fadeaway jumper with 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter against the OKC Thunder and become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,388 career points. He’s surpassed legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s record of 38,387 points.
Beginning the game with 38,352 points on the list—needing only 36 more points to make history in yet another category—James broke a record that not many thought would be broken. It’s another major accomplishment to add to his resume: Rookie of the Year, four-time champion, four-time Finals MVP, four regular-season MVPs, 19 All-Star selections, three All-Star MVPS, 18 All-NBA selections, six-time All-Defense, fourth in all-time assists and now the all-time scoring leader.
At 38, James has continued to consistently play at a high level and his longevity is nothing short of amazing. What’s even more noteworthy is the impact he’s had on, and off the court, as both a leader, cultural icon, entrepreneur and father.
SLAM has captured the King’s career over the years, from the time he was in high school to the superstar he is today. You can read every feature and cover story we’ve ever written about LeBron James in the SLAM Digital Archive. Subscribe here.
Here’s a look back at a few of his most iconic SLAM covers and moments.
SLAM 54: OHIO PLAYER
Okay, technically this wasn’t a SLAM cover, but as legendary photographer Atiba Jefferson recently wrote, you never know who you are shooting. Back in ’01, LeBron James was just 16 years old when he was featured in SLAM 54, and as Ryan Jones highlighted, he was already being compared to the greats and used to signing autographs. His potential was all there.
Who would’ve thought that he’d go on to become the all-time great he is today? Well, it’s safe to say that at that point, everyone knew something was special about the kid from Akron.
You can read the entire feature by subscribing to the SLAM Digital Archive.
SLAM 62: The Takeover
After much thought, there’s no getting around this, so I’ll just say it: LeBron James may be the best high school baller ever.
It didn’t take long for LeBron James to get his first SLAM cover. When he and Sebastian Telfair appeared on the cover of SLAM 62, Bron had already been deemed the Chosen One, and as former SLAM Editor-in-Chief Russ Bengtson wrote, had solidified himself as the best high school player ever.
SLAM 71: KING JAMES
When Russ wrote that “we’ll see how ready he really is” by the time LeBron James’ rookie season started, it seemed almost like a prophecy. He was more than ready and way, way more than the hype.
Even back then, a rookie LeBron James was truly ready to rule.
SLAM 93: HERE COMES THE REIGN
Remember this kid? It’s not like you’ve had a chance to forget.
In December 2005, James appeared on a unique SLAM 93 cover that truly captured his greatness. That year, he was selected as an All-Star, won MVP and made the All-NBA First Team.
SLAM 106: BRON IS THE ONE
The SLAM 106 coverline says it all. Bron was always the one, and at 22-years old, he led the Cavaliers on their first-ever NBA Finals run.
SLAM 171: NO DOUBT IT’S BRON’S WORLD
Just a few years after The Decision, SLAM 171 captured NBA Champion LeBron James on the cover. For all the naysayers and haters, the sentiment still stands: it’s Bron’s world.
SLAM 192: CHARGED UP
In November of 2015, LeBron James was back in Cleveland would go on to lead the franchise to greatness, winning a championship in 2016.
SLAM 220: A LOVE SUPREME
The legendary Scoop Jackson wrote a masterpiece on LeBron James’ impact, connection to the game, and his new chapter on the Lakers. Read it here.
SLAM 229: ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
In December 2020, SLAM 229 featured the champs, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James and Davis won a championship with the Lakers in the NBA bubble, defeating the Miami Heat in the Finals.
SLAM 233: ‘BOUT THAT TIME
A cultural icon. SLAM 233 was a different type of cover for LBJ, who graced it alongside Bugs Bunny. The moment captured Bron’s impact as a media mogul and entrepreneur when he appeared in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Go behind the scenes on the making of the film in the cover story. Read here.