The Evolution Of LeBron James
LeBron James lost much of his support over the past 700+days.
His decision to take his “talents” to South Beach was viewed as the ultimate betrayal by the residents of Cleveland. The criticism extended beyond the Forest City. Fans and prominent former players that once praised James’ ability accused him of taking the easy route to the NBA championship.
His life had become something of a melodramatic movie.
The NBA’s Anakin Skywalker effectively became Darth Vader. He would no longer bring balance and greatness to the league; he would change the face of future player movement. The discussion around James immediately changed. All the great moments he produced were forgotten and replaced with resentment, hostility and bitterness. He was universally viewed as weak, disloyal and overrated.
What a difference a year makes.
James has led the Miami Heat within one win of the NBA championship. He’s also managed to reshape the opinions of those that questioned his greatness. More importantly, James did what many star athletes refuse to do, something that is arguably more difficult than the psychology of the last-second shot. James learned from his mistakes and disappointments and has grown from them. But he first needed to acknowledge some of the mistakes he made which is not easy for a guy that can find an assortment of people that will displace blame in an effort to stroke his ego.
James, however, seemed to want true growth and embraced the process that growth requires.
Last season was the first step in the process which wasn’t the success he envisioned. Early on he decided to show his detractors that he made the right decision. But that energy came with some personality changes and a few moments that weren’t customary of the LeBron James most people knew. The press conference after the Heat’s Game 6 loss to Dallas was one of the moments that stood out. It has also been a moment that James has learned from.
“Last year after Game 6, after losing, once again, I was very frustrated,” James said. “I was very hurt that I let my teammates down, and I was very immature. Like I said, last year I played to prove people wrong instead of just playing my game, instead of just going out and having fun and playing a game that I grew up loving and why I fell in love with the game. So I was very immature last year after Game 6 towards you guys and towards everyone that was watching.
“One thing that I learned, and someone taught me this, the greatest teacher you can have in life is experience. I've experienced some things in my long but short career, and I'm able to make it better of myself throughout these Playoffs and throughout this whole year, and that's on and off the court. I'm just happy that I'm able to be in this position today and be back in this stage where I can do the things that I can do to make this team proud, make this organization proud, and we'll see what happens.”
James is now calm and cool entering Game 5.
That calm place is easier for him to find because he’s gotten back to playing for the right reason. In the process people have once again come to appreciate the rare talent he is. He actually has people outside of Miami cheering for him again. Nothing is perfect and last season’s failures are very much a topic of conversation, but his rise is equally as newsworthy and discussed.
That, however, is no longer a point of emphasis for James.
He’s simply focused on the task of winning the title. For himself, teammates and organization, he’s ready to deal with the pressure of the moment and results of his efforts no matter what happens in the end.
“This is my third crack at it,” James said. “First of all, I'm blessed because a lot of people, first of all, never go to The Finals. Second of all, if they go, they never go back. And this is my third opportunity. So I'm just trying to make the most of it. And like I said, win, lose or draw, I'm giving my all, and I'm going to be happy. I'll be satisfied with that.”