Whether it’s before a game or after a game, LeBron James has mastered the art of deflecting. But inside the lines is where he gets to let out the anger that he built up from all of the outside chatter.
And if you ask James, the Dallas Mavericks are one of the sole reasons why:
“When they beat us, I went into a place I haven’t been before in a long time. I went back to the fundamentals of the game. I went into breaking down every aspect of my game to get better, because I didn’t perform at the level I knew I could have or should have during those Finals.” (ESPN Dallas)
Not only did disappearing against Dallas make James develop his offensive game, it smacked him out of his 2011 angry man stage. Which in turn allowed him to compartmentalize all criticism.
So when Shawn Marion said that the Chosen One wasn’t on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore “right now,” or when the Mavericks bench taunted him because he “couldn’t shoot the ball,” it did nothing but fuel his game and send him on a personal 8-0 run — all while shooting the ball.
That’s a far cry from the guy who had wilted under the pressure of trash-talk so much that people were recommending that he see a sports psychologist.
People are, now, praising him for his resolve yet they are sure to turn on him if his squad can’t muster up enough killer instinct on Thursday. Meaning that if Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Miami Heat, the media will quickly drown all of James’ progress.