Remember when Lebron James was the first pick overall in the 2003 NBA Draft? He was an 18-year-old kid drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who that idolized Michael Jordan and expected success to come easy. James entered the association with a sense of entitlement from the moment ESPN filmed him at St. Vincent-St.Mary High School.
That entitlement remained throughout his time with the Cavs as James walked off the court without shaking hands with the opposing team during multiple playoff series.
After a 103-90 loss to the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, James quickly walked off the court without acknowledging his friend at the time Magic Center Dwight Howard.
James, who did the same thing in 2008 against the Boston Celtics said at the team “I’m a competitor,” he said. “That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense to me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”
Then there was “The Decision” in 2010, when James announced he was going to sign with the Miami Heat. Even in 2011 after losing to Dallas Mavericks, James took a shot at fans criticizing him.
“All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that.”
Since this point, Lebron’s maturity level has grown immensely.
Instead of thinking success should be handed to him, he worked harder than ever. In the summer of 2011 after the loss to the Mavs in the NBA Finals, James went to Houston to improve on his post game with Hakeem Olajuwon.
Instead of worrying about others think, James has ignored comments made by critics and haters on Twitter and he’s used it to his advantage. He put away his cell phone and he went on a Twitter hiatus until the NBA Finals were over.
Yahoo Sports Adrian Wojnarowski even thinks James has changed.
“I think that LeBron is a lot more at peace with himself. I think his focus has been narrowed. He’s closed the world down during the playoffs and is really focused on the task at hand.”
We have to remember, James never attended college and he was around people in high school that enabled him. James had to learn a lot of tough lessons in the NBA on and off the court and it has made him a better player and more mature.
James finally proposed to his long time girlfriend Savannah Brinson on New Year’s Eve at the end of 2011. The wedding will be in San Diego, California on September 13. The two have have two sons together, Bryce and Lebron Jr.
If you compare his press conferences from the time he left Cleveland to the ones his in Miami, they are like night and day. It’s like he’s so much more comfortable in Miami. This is why he will never left Miami. He was never comfortable in his skin in Cleveland. As the song “Painting” by Atmosphere says “You can’t grow if the skin don’t fit you.”
James has always been a model teammate. He has given teammates gifts such as Beats By Dre headphones among other gifts.
Some outsiders and haters that live outside of the South Florida area would say the only thing that has changed about James is that he’s winning. While I don’t think his entire personality has changed, he’s much more mature than he was in Cleveland.
For those that are still bitter about “The Decision,” then I’m sorry you’ve never made a mistake. The only difference between James and our mistakes is, his mistakes are public knowledge and ours aren’t.