With a year in Miami under his belt, LeBron James is finally coming to grips with the fact that he's the most hated man in the NBA right now. Because of The Decision—and because, frankly, he's so damn good—LBJ spent most of the 2010-2011 NBA season hearing nothing but boos and jeers whenever he touched the basketball in opposing arenas. That forced him to play angry for much of the season and that, he says, is not his game.
"I got to this point by playing the game a certain way," King James told ESPN's Rachel Nichols recently. "[I'm] getting back to loving the game and having fun with the game...That's what I lost last year. Going through my first seven years in the NBA, I was always the 'liked one' and to be on the other side—they call it the dark side or the villain or whatever they call it—it was definitely challenging for myself. It was a situation I had never been in before, and it took awhile...it took a long time to adjust to it."
He says he's adjusted to it now. But he also says that he doesn't want to be known as a villain for the rest of his career.
"It basically turned me into somebody I wasn't," he said. "You start to hear 'the villain,' now you have to be the villain, you know, and I started to buy into it. I started to play the game of basketball at a level, or at a mind state that I've never played before...meaning, angry. And that's mentally. That's not the way I play the game of basketball."
We get on LeBron a lot for some of the dumb things that he says and does. But we're glad to hear him admit all this stuff. That doesn't mean that we'll cheer for him this year...or next year...or, well, ever. But at least LeBron isn't trying to play off the fact that people love to hate him and watch him lose. It'll make it much easier for us to accept when he finally gets his first 'chip, which could very well be this year.
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