MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Sometimes, it’s just a superstars’ time to finally win a championship. It happened a few years ago in Miami when Peyton Manning won his first Super Bowl title. It happened again as the final buzzer sounded in Game 5 of the NBA Finals and LeBron James was a champion of the world.
LeBron has been under arguably the most scrutiny of any NBA player ever since he decided to come to Miami and join forces with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat. When LeBron hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy late Thursday night, it was vindication and a silencer to the hate directed his way.
“I dreamed about this opportunity and this moment for a long time, including last night, including today,” LeBron said after Game 5. “You know my dream has become a reality now, and it’s the best feeling I ever had.”
It took quite a lot for that dream to come true. After a pep rally when he stated Miami would win multiple titles, the overall NBA fan base turned against LeBron and the Miami Heat. The vitriol thrown towards James initially angered him in 2011, but it was only when he completely flamed out in the NBA Finals last year did things start to clear up for him.
“Last year I let it affect me,” James said. “I told you guys over and over and over, I was playing to prove people wrong last year, and people would say I was selfish, and that got to me.”
LeBron continued, “The best thing that happened to me last year was us losing The Finals, you know, and me playing the way I played, it was the best thing to ever happen to me in my career because basically I got back to basics. It humbled me. I knew what it was going to have to take, and I was going to have to change as a basketball player, and I was going to have to change as a person to get what I wanted.”
What it took from LeBron was a herculean effort that could have been pulled off by very few players in NBA history. LeBron averaged 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.9 steals per game through the Heat’s playoff run in 2012.
In the NBA Finals, LeBron averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game. He punctuated his NBA Finals MVP performance with a triple-double in Game 5 going for 26 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds.
For LeBron, he was a completely reinvented player and person in 2012 and it paid off with a championship.
“The biggest thing I learned is that you can’t control what people say about you, what people think about you,” LeBron said. “You just have to be true to yourself and true to the people that surround you and your loved ones. I put a lot of hard work into this. I took one week – I took, I think, one and a half, maybe two weeks off after we lost the NBA Finals, and I just got in the gym and I got back to basics.”
LeBron continued, “It just shows when you’re committed and you give everything to the game, the game pays off and it gives back to you.”