LeBron James focused on mental fitness after losing ‘love for the game’ in 2011
LeBron James recently opened up about how losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals with the Miami Heat set him on a path in pursuit of achieving improved mental fitness.
James became an NBA villain of sorts in the wake of the disastrous “The Decision,” a contrived live television event in 2010 when he announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach.
James’ first season in Miami as part of the “Big Three” alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh ended in disappointment when the Heat lost three straight to lose to the Mavericks in six games in the Finals.
The crushing loss, along with being viewed so unfavorably by legions of NBA fans, led James to the realization that he needed to not only take care of his body but his mind as well, as he shared with Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
LeBron opens up to @mcten about how his struggles in the 2011 NBA Finals forced him to place more emphasis on his "mental fitness." pic.twitter.com/h91ule6qnS— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 10, 2019
“I would think I would say probably like the last eight years,” James said of his approach to “mental fitness,” as transcribed by Clutch Points. “The one instance I can think of is the loss to Dallas in the 2011 Finals. I knew that the physical side wasn’t gonna just be enough and also the level of scrutiny that I was dealing with and how I got out of my comfort zone, I lost the love for the game, and I knew that was the mental side.
“To be able to be in a packed arena on the road, with 20,000, 22,000 screaming fans going crazy, to be able to find one minute, two minutes, whatever — 30 seconds to be able to close my eyes and just kind of relax myself and calm myself. It’s meditation basically — it’s worked tremendously for me in my career.”
James clearly credits mental fitness for his later achievements. The Heat did go on to win back-to-back titles after 2011’s disappointment. James then won another championship upon his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and overall made eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances while earning numerous accolades and awards.
In the end, it truly matters little how much mental fitness actually contributed to James’ successes, so long he believes it did.