LeBron James has had a stellar career. The Los Angeles Laker has won three NBA championships, been awarded the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award four times, won two Olympic gold medals and appeared in fifteen NBA All-Star Games.
He’s on top of the world!
His journey has been even more remarkable. One moment that stood out was the 2008-2009 NBA season.
Then a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James’ squad swept the Detroit Pistons in the First Round of the NBA Playoffs in four games. Cleveland took care of busines in the Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks by sweeping them in four games. The Cavs did lose to the Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu-led Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games.
While on a September 2009 promotional run for his film, More Than A Game, James was given an honest critique by a basketball fixture: two-time NBA champion and TNT analyst, Kenny Smith.
For those tardy to the party: More Than A Game was a 2009 film that chronicled James’ high school career at Akron, Ohio’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School,
According to Smith, he and James spent time talking backstage before partaking in a panel that he moderated and included Willie McGee, Sian Cotton, Dru Joyce II, film maker Kristopher Belman at Manahattan’s Pier 36.
Smith says that James asked him about he and the Cavs’ chances for the 2009-2010 NBA season and the TNT analyst told James the unthinkable: “You’re the best player in the world, you have a movie made about your life and you have holes in your game,” Smith told me that he told James.”
“It’s hard to believe that the best player in the world has holes in his game.”
Throughout the years, Smith has always been both diplomatic and firm in his commentary about James.
He says that James respected his candor by replying: “Well you’re honest!”
James must of heard him because he and the Cavs had something special brewing during the 2009-10 regular season. James won his second MVP award that season after posting an impressive 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game for Cleveland.
The Cavaliers also finished with the best record in the NBA at 61-21, which earned them first place in the East.
Not only did Smith tell James that he had holes in his game, he also told LBJ that he he didn’t “post up enough.”
“You don’t create double teams in the shortfform only on the longform,” Smith recounted.
James’ Cavs lost to the Boston Celtics in six games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Later that summer, James elected to form a trio with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh by taking his talents to South Beach and joining the Miami Heat.
They’d win two NBA Championships before James returned to Cleveland and won a ring with Cleveland with teammates, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson.
James leveled up and for that, Kenny Smith is pleased.
“I don’t know if he said: ‘Oh I gotta post up because of what Kenny said,'” joked Smith.
“But, the best players in the world could have holes in their game. As long as he didn’t sleep in silk robes and be content, he’s going to get better at it. But if he believed he was the best player in the world, some guys believe that they’re the best and they don’t continue to work!”
This summer, James will be working on his game. He was solid statistically this season, averaging 27.4 points, 8.3 assists and 8.5 rebounds in his first season with the Lakers.
A groin injury on Christmas against the Golden State Warriors changed the trajectory of he and the Lakers’ season.
The Los Angeles Lakers are sitting in 11th place in the NBA’s Western Conference and won’t be making the NBA Playoffs.
They’ll enter this summer looking to make a splash in NBA Free Agency.
The Lakers purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019 where several NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan are expected to become unrestricted free agents.
James will also be working on his Space Jam 2 film.
“I like being uncomfortable in the offseason,” LeBron James told The Athletic’s Joe Vardon. “I like being counted out. It motivates me.
“I’ve had basically the same offseason training regimen the last eight years,” LeBron added. “I knew how long I wanted to rest for the season on a short timeline. I’m figuring out now how to get as much as I can out of two months of extra time for training. It requires a totally different strategy. We’re looking at it in an entirely new way.”