If you’re looking to immortalize a modern-day icon, this is the only place to start: LeBron Raymone James, the short-list GOAT candidate suiting up for his 20th NBA season, still producing at a level most All-Stars could only dream to reach at their peak.
The LeBron we see in 2022 has evolved, of course—he’ll always be “The Kid From Akron,” but he’s so much more than that now. We know what that means off the court: father, husband, Hollywood mogul, business titan, brand ambassador, and oh yeah, a guy who created an entire school to give hundreds of kids in his hometown a better chance at life. That’s all possible because of what he’s done on the court, the spotlight under which he’s excelled for almost a quarter century, and the generational talent and nearly unequaled impact he’s brought to the highest level of the game.
As stated, his evolution is essential to any retelling of LeBron’s story. And so, a challenge: How do you convey two-plus decades of evolution in a single action figure? How do you convey the transformational impact on three franchises, the 10 NBA Finals appearances, the four rings? With Starting Lineup, the answer is simple: You capture the accumulation in a frozen moment. Everything that he’s accomplished and experienced in his career has made him the savvy, all-world elder statesman that he is today, the still grown-man-strong, athletic dude who has seen more—and still sees more on the court—than just about any player in NBA history.
This isn’t baseball, so there’s no debate about which hat LeBron will wear for his Hall of Fame eternity. His jerseys—three color schemes and two different numbers so far—have ironclad reservations in the rafters of three different arenas, and all are essential to his unparalleled career arc. It’s all there in one figure: his formative years and ultimately triumphant return to Cleveland and his otherworldly stint in Miami, both unseen but undeniably implied in a figure now clad in Forum blue and gold. He got another title in L.A., of course, and based on last year’s performance, there’s every reason to believe he’s not done pursuing titles just yet.
How to pose him will be a challenge for even the savviest of fans—how many other players have so many oncourt signature moves? The soaring, one-handed dunk is an easy choice—as easy as he still makes them look even as he creeps up on his 38th birthday. The chase-down block would be no less fitting for a player who has now scared a couple of generations of opposing players into looking over their shoulders when they think they’ve got an open layup and he’s on the floor. And of course, there’s that fall-away jumper, the casual gather and launch from his instantly recognizable stance that feels like money from the baseline corner or the top of the key.
All these years later, LeBron remains the top pick, the guy you can play (and display) anywhere.
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