In my previous post, I gave you all a little insight into how I felt about LeBron James circa 2011, having just blown a chance at winning the championship. James has been worthy of his nickname “King James” for most, if not all, of his life; however, the way in which he wears the crown has definitely changed throughout the years.
Four years ago, James was labeled a villain. Having just signed with the Miami Heat via an hour-long interview now known as “The Decision,” people were outraged; and it was not just Cleveland Cavaliers fans. Every NBA fanatic around the league had something to say; at the time, I may just have been the only one who approved of this arrangement. Although I would miss seeing the obvious brotherhood between Mo Williams and James, would have to stop wearing my maroon James t-shirt, and would have to accept that fact that head coach Erik Spoelstra resembled my (now) ex-boyfriend, I saw James going to Miami as a great thing. First, the Heat previously won a title in 2006. They were also already full of solid talent beyond just Dwyane Wade. On top of that, president Pat Riley, besides being a legend in the world of professional basketball, had a remarkable eye for running an organization. All of this, combined with the fact that Cleveland simply did not have what it took to win a championship, and I was sold. I hate to say it, but I even liked James’ new villainous role. I knew it would feel that much better watching him succeed, knowing how many people wanted him to fail.
But James did not seem to share my sentiment, after his first season in Miami was not exactly going as planned.
He backtracked on the way he announced his relocation, stating he should have done it via a regular press conference. Instead of being confident that soon his promise of “not one, not two, not three…” rings would come true, he felt ashamed that he ever muttered those words. He was careful around the media; explaining his intentions behind yesterday’s quotes, just in case they were misconstrued. He even came forward with a sort of call-for-sympathy via a Nike commercial. James did everything he could to shake his new image, letting it get the best of him rather than embracing it.
And unfortunately, his 2010-2011 season with the Heat only prompted his naysayers to feel victorious.
Fast forward to present day. James, with two championships to his name, is well on his way towards a third. And that is what first comes to mind when you think of him. It is not the sentence “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” It is not Dan Gilbert’s angry letter. It is not even failing to the Dallas Mavericks during the 2011 playoffs. Obviously, the team has had time to become accustomed to one another. And yes, they have only added more talent since then. James is also only getting better with age. But all of those reasons are not necessarily why James (and the Heat) turned himself around. The real difference between now and then is attitude.
It could be that James stopped being deemed a villain, simply with time. Or perhaps it was because the following year, he took the Heat all the way. But I am willing to bet that most of it was in James’ control; once he stopped paying attention to what was being said, and focused on what he had come to do, the rest fell to the wayside. James no longer cares what the public thinks of him. He is no longer careful in his interviews. He does not apologize for his words or actions. He is who he is, and that is good enough for him. Good thing too, seeing as he is one of the best athletes in the world.
To me, King James has always been a hero of sorts. It just seems that now, finally, everyone else sees him in the same light too.