After a devastating loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Championships where he was a virtual no-show in clutch time, LeBron James has had nothing but time to reevaluate his game and where he wants it to be. In fact, thanks to this NBA lockout, he may have far more time than he wants to dwell on his recent on-court performance.
As scary as the threat of no 2012 season is to NBA players and fans alike, LeBron feels that things will get done in time to save the season.
During a recent interview with the Associated Press, James expressed optimism that the lockout may not be as long as feared. Whether this is just wistful thinking or he's more clued in than any sports personality in the country, time will tell.
"I'm optimistic that we will have a season this year," James said. "Very optimistic."
He reiterated this belief in another interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols.
"I'm preparing for an NBA season," James told Nichols. "I'm preparing for there to be a training camp in the next month. I'm very optimistic that Billy Hunter and the owners and David Stern will figure out a way to come together and for us to have a season. And I'll be ready for it."
As part of his preparation for next season, James has been training hard two times a day. He has also been focusing on the weakest part of his game, his post play. LeBron has sought the assistance of one of the greatest post players of all time, Hakeem Olajuwon, to help him in this endeavor.
"I look at what he was able to do throughout his career," James told the AP about working with Olajuwon. "Unbelievable talent. Multiple champion. Just to see how he was able to dominate in the low post, for me as an individual, I just try to look at some of the things I feel I need to get better at and hit home at it. Our team becomes better if I continue to get better and that's what it's about."
"I'm doing whatever it takes to just become a better basketball player," James told Nichols. "Just everyday just trying to critique my game — seeing ways that I can get better so I can be more of a complete basketball player on the court, a better leader on and off the court and continue to work towards my goal of winning an NBA championship."
The loss to the Mavericks, and the resulting backlash against James, should prove all the motivation needed for the 'Chosen One' to take his game to the next level…one that shows up in the Finals. That motivation may prove all the incentive needed for James to push the NBA and the Players Union to get a new deal done, from behind the scenes, of course, because as we all know, the NBA is a players driven league and there is no bigger driving force than LeBron.
Photo credit – AP