During LeBron James’ first spell with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was an outstanding individual player and, in the eyes of some, the best player in the NBA. But he doesn’t yet know how to win or lead.
In the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, the Cavaliers achieved the best record in the league, but were eliminated in the playoffs both times. In 2009, they lost to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the following year, despite being favored in both series, they lost to the Boston Celtics in the second round.
In the summer of 2010, James “brought his own talent” to the Miami Heat and shocked the world. He spent four years there, and by all appearances, he went from a great player to the greatest player in Heat franchise history.
Before his current team, the Los Angeles Lakers, take on the Heat on Monday, James reflected on his time in Miami. While he admitted he learned a lot there, he also said his career would have had a similar outcome had he not joined the Heat (h/t Lakers Daily ).
“I think whether I come here (Miami) or not, I’m still going to be at this level,” James said. “Let’s not get it twisted: My four years here, it’s been fantastic. I’ve loved everything about it. Love this franchise, this franchise is top-notch, it’s one of the best franchises in the world .
“But as far as my career, personally, my career is going to be my career because I know how much I put into the game, I know how much I work to be as good as I can be. ( But) in terms of what I’ve learned here, it’s second to none, that’s for sure.”
James reached the NBA Finals in each of his four seasons with the Heat and won two consecutive world championships in 2012 and 2013. They underwent a rebuilding project when James returned to Cleveland in 2014, but they have advanced to two championship series since forward Jimmy Butler joined them four years ago.
Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire