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Thursday, November 29, 2012

THE WORK ETHIC OF A CHAMPION

The following are excerpts of an interview by ESPN's Michael Wibon with LeBron James:

WILBON: I know that getting better is something you started talking about at the end of last year, not resting on it and specifically getting better. But how, given what you did last year, how the hell can you improve?

JAMES: Well, you just try to get better in every aspect of the game, you try to improve from the year before. I'm still trying to improve my post game and playing in the interior. I'm still trying to improve my ballhandling. I'm still going to continue to improve as a leader. In all those aspects, if I can continue to do that it will help our team in the long run.

WILBON: I want to go back to something you talked about, your post game. Because for a while that was a criticism: "We know LeBron has the body, the skills, the game to have a great low-post game, but he doesn't do it." But last year you dominated opponents and dominated entire series by playing in the post. What led to you adopting that?

JAMES: I think a few things led to it. What we needed as a team -- we had so many guys who could play on the perimeter. I knew that I can handle the ball, I knew D-Wade would handle the ball, Rio [Mario Chalmers] would handle the ball. But we weren't scoring a lot of points in the paint unless we were driving into the paint. I felt like to help our team, it would be a big thing if I started to attack the paint more without dribbling the ball -- catching the ball in the low post, creating double-teams for my teammates and creating matchup problems. And I wanted to make another transformation in my game.

WILBON: I don't know how much time you could have had to work on anything [LeBron laughs] this past summer. Coach Spoelstra was telling me nine days is all you took off. I mean, how much is too much? Can you OD on basketball? Can there be a burnout factor?

JAMES: It's like with every job, no matter how much you love it, it gets to a point where you'll just be like [puts head back and sighs], I just need a break. And there are days where I'll be like, LeBron you need to chill a little bit or get your work in early so you'll be able to relax at night ... I try to perfect my game so much that I kind of bump heads with myself. I want to continue to get better, and I always feel like if I take a day off here, then somebody else on the other side of town or another city is trying to be better than me.

WILBON: So what could you do this summer, an offseason as short as it was due to the Olympics?

JAMES: Well, I didn't have the extensive offseason like I did last summer to get into the gym and actually work on things, so I went to the film room. I watched a lot of regular-season games. I watched a lot of playoff games -- from not only this year but last year, my first year in Miami. And I also watched a lot of players from the past, champions and other greats that made marks in this game.

WILBON: Will what happened in the past year set or change your expectations about what you think ought to happen this season and beyond?

JAMES: Well, our expectations and my expectation are always the same: We want to get better each and every day as a team -- and that's either on the floor or during film session or whatever the case may be -- and put ourselves in a position where we contend for a title. I think we have the right coaching staff, we have the right organization, we have the right players that, if we do our job, if guys come in and understand what it really means to be a champion, which I know we do, then we're gonna give ourselves a good shot.