The 2011 NBA Finals; a series full of headlines, a first for many, and an unaccomplished mission for some.
Included in that ‘some’, is LeBron James, but his experience last year will make him better in the long run.
Losing the Finals in six games to the supposed ‘underdog’ Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Heat finished a season filled with turmoil, negativity, and an amount of hate unseen for any team in the history of sports. Much of the hate is credited to the former Cleveland Cavalier, whom overnight went from a player loved by millions to hated by millions.
Image via: NikeLeBron.net
While it is clear that LeBron did have a rough season mentally with all of the criticism directed towards he and his teammates, LeBron continued to perform well statistically throughout the season.
That is until he finally cracked in the NBA Finals.
All of this seemed to be lost in the hectic confusion of the NBA lockout. LeBron was no longer the center of attention in the NBA world, as eyes were glued to board meetings, suits & ties, and whether or not David Stern would budge.
So instead of hearing about LeBron signing a new multi-million dollar contract with a clothing line, or guaranteeing multiple NBA championships, we witnessed a side of LeBron that was new to many; a more mature side if you will.
As I kept an open eye on the lockout, I couldn’t seem to divert my attention away from the talents down South; particularly LeBron. You see, I’m a firm believer in ‘it’s not the mistakes you make, but how you respond to them.’ So I took the time to watch how James would respond to his second Finals letdown.
Instead of talking, No. 6 was either in the gym, hooping it up with fellow NBA stars, or in Drew League games, or even tossing the pigskin around with Kevin Durant. Not only was all of this impressive, but it made me wonder if LeBron is finally coming around.
While LeBron always had the talent, he never faced adversity like he faced last year in his life. Always loved, adored, and supported by us all, but now with a hate-filled season in his rearview mirror, LeBron might have had no choice but to man-up.
It showed in this interview with Rachel Nichols:
The one word that came to mind after watching this, was scary.
Could LeBron now have become an even better player on a mental level?
The aura portrayed by LeBron not only shows that a lesson was learned, but it shows that he’s faced the music, smelled the coffee, and is now admiting to his faults.
So not only do I believe that season number eight for LeBron was his most important, but last season – despite the disappointments – might have unlocked a level of awareness and maturity in James that will stun us all in the upcoming 66-game season.
Don’t say I never told you.