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Los Angeles Lakers

The iconic imagery of LeBron James dunks: Which photo is better?

A picture is worth a thousand words and on Friday, NBA photographer Andrew D. Bernstein captured LeBron James mid-flight en route to a show-stopping highlight more worthy of the Slam Dunk contest than of a routine play in the middle of the third quarter of a regular season game in February.

It's a moment in time that will last forever, one of those defining images forever associated with LeBron James.

It instantly transported me back to 2010 and reminded me of that photo.

You know the one.

Associated Press photographer Morry Gash snapped the elusive perfect photo.

Dwyane Wade with his arms spread wide, inviting all to look on and marvel at James powerfully and beautifully wrecking the rim in the background.

If you had to pick just one, which is it?

Which iconic image is better?
LeBron's 'Year 17' dunk
Wade to LeBron
Created with QuizMaker

Both images resonate and capture the essence of a specific era.

  • LeBron James, invincible in Year 17 and still going.
  • LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, an unstoppable in-their-prime one-two punch.

They mean different things. They define different entities. They are messages in a bottle moments from two very different eras.

And yet both transcend the moment itself to take on a much bigger meaning.

Just like nobody remembers the date (Dec. 6, 2010) or opponent (Milwaukee Bucks) of the Wade-to-LeBron moment, nobody will remember the date (Feb. 6, 2020) or opponent (Houston Rockets) that James defied Father Time to enter his own mid-game Slam Dunk contest.

Bernstein's amazing photo from Friday captures so much of what makes LeBron James larger than life in 2020.

  • Two words: "Year 17"
  • No other player in his vicinity
  • Raised arms throughout a crowd anticipating greatness
  • "NBATickets.com" placed so perfectly it feels like a marketing ploy
  • The iconic Lakers logo staring down at the STAPLES Center court

About the only thing that would have made it more perfect is if it happened on the other end of the floor, in which case the jerseys in the rafters would have been Lakers greats as opposed to the others hanging from the ceilings. And yet even, there's something poetic about Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all-time, looming in the background to witness The King rise up and throw down with authority.

One day, LeBron James will no longer be taking flight, which makes moments like Friday all the better.

Enjoy them. Cherish them. Marvel at them. Don't take them for granted.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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