The Internet has been throbbing with intrigue after the Chris Broussard Q & A with LeBron James for ESPN the Magazine dropped this morning. There is a lot to take in, so we’re giving you the 5 biggest things to glean from LeBron’s eye-opening gaze back on his first up-and-down decade in the NBA.
What a doozy of an interview. Broussard writes mellifluous exposition to preface the question-and-answer portion, reminding readers that maybe the religiously outspoken NBA analyst should stick to these sorts of interviews rather than his often-late breaking news updates (leave that to Woj). Broussard’s excellent introduction aside, LeBron opens up like we haven’t really seen since he got over the Larry O’Brien hurdle and captured the last two NBA championships, while also winning the last two regular season MVP awards (and four of the last five) as well as two NBA Finals MVP’s and two gold medals. Also, just a reminder, he’s not yet 30, humbling even the most most precocious among us.
There was a lot to ingest after getting through the whole interview, but here are 5 takeaways from the piece [in no particular order]:
1. LeBron is going to the post even more next season.
We’ve long known that at 6-8, 250 pounds, James had the capability to go HAM in the paint with few capable of thwarting his advances in the restricted area. Except, in the past, LeBron didn’t really feel comfortable doing so. He’s comfortable now, which should make every opponent dizzy. After working with Hakeem the summer after his 2011 Finals loss to the Mavericks, we saw a few instances of this during the Heat’s run to the title in 2012. But it came in brief moments, vestiges of a Bruce Banner unwilling to go Hulk. That might be changing.
“I think [posting up] is a dynamic that helps our team more than anything. We don’t have too many conventional post-up guys. Obviously, CB [Chris Bosh] can get down there, but he’s more of a spot-up, catch-and-shoot, pick-and-flair guy. D-Wade does a little bit down there as well. But it brought a new dynamic for our team when I started to change the pie chart of my game — less perimeter and now adding a little bit more in the post.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t like [posting up]; it was just something I wasn’t comfortable with. I would say I’m comfortable with it now. And for me, anything that adds value to our team and the guys around me, my teammates, I’m all for it. If it took me playing without the ball and cutting more or slashing more without the ball, if it took me playing point guard, if it took me playing center, if it’s going to help our team, I’m for it. And I felt like in order for our team to be more dynamic, I needed to be in the low post. It just creates so many matchup problems. Teams can’t play me one-on-one down there, so when a double-team comes, with me being as tall as I am and with my basketball IQ, I’m able to find guys uncovered. So it’s a dynamic for our team that not many teams have.
“I worked on a lot of post moves without dribbling, creating space and also getting to one countermove. If you take away one thing, being able to counter off of it, I also have a counter to a counter. If you take away the counter, I’m able to exploit that as well. So it’s going to be pretty fun down there for me this year.”
‘Bron’s so freakin’ massive, and so skilled with the ball, we might look back on his first eight years somewhere down the line and wonder what would have happened if he’d gotten used to being in the post before coming to Miami. What would have happened if he’d grown accustomed to playing off-the-ball earlier? It’s not that LeBron turned a page these last couple years, it’s that he’s written an entirely new book, fulfilling all the desperate hype we’ve saddled him with since he was a teenager.