LeBron James has always been a polarizing player. Since he first stepped foot in the NBA, in what was one of the most anticipated debuts in sports history, The King impressed almost any basketball fan with his abilities, the talent and the gifts that Mother Nature lavishly gave to him. However, he was also in the center of extreme criticism and endless discussions.
Now, three years after leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that initially drafted him at the first spot of the 2003 NBA Draft, two championships and a bunch of other awards later, the hate LeBron faced from a big portion of the NBA world seems like it has cooled down.
Everybody loves the champion. Everybody respects the champion.
That’s why it’s no surprise that after the first championship with the Miami Heat and even more after the second one in a row last season, LeBron is much more respected around the league, even by his former haters. Now, no matter if somebody likes The King or not, he has at least to admit that he is (arguably) the best basketball player in the world and one of the best athletes. His achievements, his numbers and his performance when he is on court prove all the above.
LeBron’s numbers seem to get better every year, after he took his talents to South Beach to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Last season, he shot at a close-to-unreal 56.5 percent from the floor and also 40.6 percent from three-point territory, both career-highs.
The reason behind this improvement is that he now is more mature. The shots he takes are more in his comfort zones, he has reduced the isolations that resulted in low-percentage attempts and he has even cut down his threes. It seems like LeBron is now much more confident when he has the ball on his hands. It’s like he knows what to do when he has the ball on his hand; the way to read what the defense is giving to him and make the most out of it. His constant practice and his devotion to improving his skills day-by-day and year-by-year are the No.1 reason for his ability to stay at the top.
But even when not on court, LeBron seems much more relaxed. He makes fun with the reporters, doesn’t put much pressure on himself, like he did during the previous season and in general, he appears to be a guy that fans can like much more easily than some years ago.
As a result, the hate against him has finally cooled off. No matter what the outcome of the next season is for him and the Miami Heat, no matter if he stays or departs from South Beach, the certainty is that he will most probably not face the hate and the pressure he did before earning his first two rings. Hopefully for him, the future will be as successful as the past couple of years. For now, his team, the Miami Heat, is the No.1 favorite for the conquest of the championship in 2013-2014.