As the summer has gone by we've been hearing about all the different things that LeBron James has been up to. He's been all around the country doing charity work and playing in different basketball games, he's filmed a commercial in Los Angeles and attended a bachelor party in Las Vegas (for fellow NBA All-Star Chris Paul). He's also visited the Nike headquarters in Oregon and hosted basketball camps for some of the best high school and college prospects in the country.
Now King James is back in his home state of Ohio, hosting his annual charity bicycle event and getting inducted into his high school's Hall of Fame before heading to China on Wednesday. While he was back home, James spoke to reporters and an interesting topic was brought up. LeBron revealed that after losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals, he was inspired to work on a specific aspect of his game.
Throughout the course of the season and into the playoffs we saw LeBron make some amazing drives, highlight reel dunks and huge jumpshots, but for him there was still something missing. So he sought out a friend, former NBA Champion and Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to help him with a particular part of his offensive repertoire.
James wants to improve his post up play, and who better to teach the art of playing with your back to the basket then one of the best to ever do it. So LeBron discussed going down to Houston and working out with Olajuwon, something that Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard have done as well, to improve that part of his game that he feels could use a tune up.
It's not like LeBron doesn't have a post up game. He actually did a very good job of playing down low while Chris Bosh was injured last season, but it's a part of his game that he seemed to get more and more away from as the year went by. By the time they were deep into the playoffs and in need of a ‘shifting gears' ability, it seemed that James had become so complacent with his game that posting up wasn't an option.
The beginning of the offseason is often a time of reflection for players, and I'm guessing that when LeBron looked back on the playoffs and started up the ‘what if' game, that's when he realized that when you have the talent that he does, there is no reason he shouldn't be comfortable using any aspect of his game at any time, especially when situations call for it. Here are some of his comments on the subject:
"Right now, I've just been focusing on getting better, working on my game every single day. The Dallas Mavericks were a great team and they deserved to win that championship. Its just more motivation coming into this season."
"You always want to be victorious but when you're not victorious, it's about how you bounce back. I'm in bounce-back mode, and I've dedicated this offseason to myself being a better basketball player."
I'll also add a couple more comments that he made, but on a different topic. LeBron is just one of several Heat players that hasn't expressed an interest in playing overseas should the lockout extend past the beginning of the NBA season. In fact, James seemed to infer that he planned on joining his teammates for training camp, which normally begins at the end of September.
"I'm very passionate about the game of basketball and I've been working toward the upcoming season. I'm very optimistic about (union leader) Billy Hunter and the owners getting a deal done. I love the game that much, so that's my focus right now. My focus is having a training camp next month at the end of the month and getting ready to go."
I really hope that his ‘glass half full' outlook and his confidence that the league and the players union will get a deal done is justified, but I'm a little bit more skeptical then he seems to be. As I've said before, I hope this is one instance where I am proven wrong.