Sports Illustrated named LeBron James the 2012 Sportsman of the Year this week.In his excellent cover story on LeBron, SI’s Lee Jenkins was able to dig up a whole bunch of rich details and stories that give us a much better picture of who LeBron is and what drives him.
Among them: LeBron barely went to school in third grade because his mother was moving so much, he goes to insane lengths to scout opposing players, and he impersonates a lion when he gets in the zone.
Battier, one of the most respected players in the league, had this to say:
'It's a little like A Beautiful Mind. He has a quasi-photographic memory that allows him to process data very quickly. Usually, the über-athletic guys who are so much more physically gifted than everybody else don't give much credence to the mental side of the game.'
The article really hammers home how smart LeBron is on the court.
He can run every play in Miami's playbook from all five positions. He's also really dependent on advanced stats, 'I want to know that this guy drives left 70% of the time, or pulls up when he drives right, or likes to cross over after two dribbles.'
LeBron probably had the best game of his life in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics. His teammates said they knew they'd win because he had 'the look.' Here's how he explained that look:
'You know how in school, around the classroom, there's always the alphabet? The capital A and lower case A has an apple. The capital B and lower case B has a ball. I always looked at the L, because of my name, and it had a lion. That's why I love lions. The look they're talking about is the look lions get when they're seeking prey and it's time to feast.'
He now has a charity to help at-risk youth in the Akron area.
When one of the students in his program misses school, they get a voicemail saying, 'Hi, it's LeBron. Your teachers and friends are missing you at school. As soon as you feel better, get back in school and get back in the game.'
Really exciting quote about KD:
'I know there is someone, somewhere, trying to take my spot. And I know where he is too. He's in Oklahoma. He's my inspiration because I see the direction he's headed, and it's the same direction I'm headed. I know his mind-set, and he knows mine. It's a collision course. We're driving one another.'
Now we know the moment LeBron and the Heat figured it out.
LeBron played small forward all of his first season. But one day after the failure against Dallas, the Heat decided that they needed to change.
LeBron won the title as a power forward 12 months later.
LeBron seems totally aware of his affect on the NBA landscape. Here's a really telling quote:
'I understand they're coming to watch the Suns tomorrow, but they're also coming to watch us and watch me, and I want people to appreciate how I play. I don't want them to leave disappointed. No matter if you've got a Suns jersey or a Heat jersey, I feel like you're here to see me.'
SI interviewed one of the Cavaliers fans who burned a LeBron jersey when he left Cleveland. He said he was rooting for him in the Olympics
Here's how he described his emotions during the Lithuania game, when the US almost lost:
'It looked like the game was slipping away. Everybody was struggling. You were thinking, Could they lose? Then he scored nine points in the last four minutes. Only he could do that. Love him or hate him, you have to respect him.'
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