So what happens after Lebron lost in the 2011 finals? He shed his skin as the villain of the NBA and learned to love the game again. A slight psychological change like that is what mattered for him to earn his very first ring in the NBA finals against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma Thunder. His branding image change significantly because the media attention stopped focusing on how Lebron is as a villain. Instead, he just wanted to play his best for the love of the game. Ultimately, he won the MVP award in 2012 which puts on a stamp of approval on what fans of the league think of him. Whether they love him or hate him, they undoubtedly respected him and his game to give him the Most Valuable Player award, which would be his third time winning the prestigious award.
Often times Lebron James is compared to Michael Jordan when determining who had the better career, but really they are so different. Lebron James has lost many times in the finals before finally winning his first ring. But the losses have just as much effect as the wins on how it impacts a person. The losses humbled Lebron and he was able to learn leadership skills by being tossed in the fire. He came into the NBA after coming from high school, so he never had the formal training and coaching in college. Thus, he had to prove his maturity because that was the path he chose for himself. Perhaps if he went to college, he would be still be an incredibly skillful player who would make less mistakes. But he made his decision to skip college and go straight to the NBA so that he could learn by doing. This cost him because he had to suffer many losses before his first championship win. The path to greatness to him is earned and carved through the decisions that he made in life.
“I play the game fun, joyful, and I let my game do all of the talking and I got away from that. 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.” – Lebron
This was a big change from the year before when he was claiming that he would win “not one, not two, not three….championships.” With statements like the one above all season, his words and actions quickly turned the narrative around on who he is as a person and as a player. Once he was able to come to terms and remind himself where he is for the love of the game, he took over the Eastern conference and took his team straight to the finals for a second time. There, he defeated a young Thunder team and eventually won his first championship which eluded him for so many years.