AKRON, Ohio (AP)
LeBron James stood before 360 third-graders on Monday, telling them their futures are bright.
Plenty of ominous signs notwithstanding, he believes the same is true for the NBA.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the Miami Heat forward said he is not considering offers to play internationally during the NBA lockout — with one catch. He's committed to the 2012 Olympics and trying to help the United States defend the gold medal he helped win at the Beijing Games.
''I'm optimistic that we will have a season this year,'' James said. ''Very optimistic.''
A little anxious, too.
He's working out twice a day, trying to erase some of the sting that's still there after the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals.
''Right now I've just been focusing on being a better player, working on my game every single day,'' James said at a news conference before the AP interview. ''Like I said, the Dallas Mavericks were a great team and they deserved to win that championship. And I'll just use that as motivation coming into this season.''
He's also trying to deliver on his vow to be even better whenever the Heat resume play, saying he's been in Houston at times this offseason to learn post play from one of the game's all-time greats, former Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon.
''I look at what he was able to do throughout his career,'' James said. ''Unbelievable talent. Multiple champion. Just to see how he was able to dominate in the low post, for me as an individual, I just try to look at some of the things I feel I need to get better at and hit home at it. Our team becomes better if I continue to get better and that's what it's about.''
So even with signs of major trouble afoot in the NBA — union chief Billy Hunter told a conference of attorneys in Baltimore last week that he would bet against there being a 2011-12 season ''at this moment'' — James remains hopeful.
He said he understands why someone like star guard Deron Williams would feel compelled to seek a deal overseas and why Kobe Bryant appears to be flirting with the notion. It's just not for him, he said.
''We all love the game of basketball so much,'' James said. ''And the love of the game is always going to be there. Guys love the game.''
The Olympics count as a motivating force as well. And in time, he hinted he may even try recruiting some of his NBA pals in an effort to convince them to play in London next summer.
Not yet, though.
''I love representing my country and doing it the way I love to do it and that's playing the game of basketball,'' James said. ''So I would love to be a part of the 2012 team traveling to London and defending our gold medal.''
beat me to it lol!!! +1
^^^^He helped Dwight Howard I see him helping Lebron tremendously as well. He is swagger Jackin Kobe though lol
He did help Dwight, but to me LBJ just looks too uncomfortabe and mechanical down there to figure it out.
I dont get it. Is Hakeem gonna teach him to score in the last 8 minutes? I mean can one of the greatest Cs of all time help one of the biggest PGs of all time??
In all seriousness, I cant see him using much.. Kobe takes full advantage but Lebron probably wont...
I have to disagree. LeBron already is one of the best post up wings in the NBA, but he doesn't post up enough. He has lots of room for improvement. He needs to work on his passing out of the post and improve his footwork, most NBA wings only dream of being as effective as LeBron is in the post.
Yes!!!! A post game! I am now ready to die in peace.
^ and if you are talking about improving footwork...Hakeem is the absolute guru. there was a player by the name of Junior Burrough who played for UVA years ago. he was a McDonalds All American. Decent player for his first 3 years, but then the summer before his last season, he worked out with Hakeem on his footwork. the dude came back and killed it his last season and in the ACC tourney was nearly unstoppable. He and Randolph Childress battled it out for ACC tourney scoring records. The guy was an absolute beast with his footwork and he avg 18ppg his final season going up against the likes of Tim Duncan, Rasheed Wallace, and Joe Smith. All 3 of those guys were 1st team All ACC that year and Junior was 3rd team but he actually got the better of those guys in a lot of those meetings. Although he was a good player as a soph and junior, he was a TOTALLY different player in the post after working out with the Dream. That season propelled him into the draft and he was selected 33rd by the Celtics. He didnt stick in the league because he was an undersized PF at 6'8".
The8thDeadlySin Lebron is one of the hardest workers in the league I don't understand what you mean about him not taking full advantage. B-ball fan I agree with you for the most part, but Lebron's biggest strength in the post is actually his passing. He always finds the open man its just more about him becoming more assertive in the post and forcing his will. I'm glad to see him working on his game because when MJ and Kobe added post moves to there repertoire they became that much better and even extended there careers. Lebron adding a much refined post game will help him tremendously considering how good he is already.
IT'S ABOUT TIME!
I'll believe it when I see it. Dwight was at least somewhat fluid in the post. And even he stil hasnt become the model of perfection for the post IMO. Just like last year hearing about this big new and improved post game of LBJ's I still never saw it this year.
If he gets a post game, that little inner doubter he has of himself is going to kick in and render it useless.
Call me a hater or w/e, but I just can't believe the idea of LBJ becoming a good/consistent post player until i see it with my own eyes. hearing him say es stopped by the Dream's house a couple times doesn't tell me he extensively training with Hakeem like Dwight did.
BTW, let's not forget tht it wasn't like Dwight just all of a sudden worked with Olajuwon and became a post beast. He's had work throughout the past couple of seasons with Patrick Ewing who was a terrific offensive weapon down low in his own right.
What Dwight were you watching? Dwight Howard was extremely mechanical in the post before he started working with Hakeem and had no moves down there. Lebron is already good from the post passing wise and efficiency wise. The problem is he isn't dominating or using the post game as much as he should. Considering how much Dwight improved from the post this year to last and considering Lebron improves an aspect of his game every year he should be good.
Again, I may bewrong, but I'm conceding until I see it for myself. If he gets the post game, he better not be a &$#%#&@! a be afraid of makign aggressive post moves for wins otherwise it's another wasted skill. BTW, for every new aspect of the game LBJ learns per offseason, another ends up suffering.
See FTA attempts and inside shots during the finals. He got a jumper and suddenly fell in love with it.
And I still disagree, Dwight wasn't mechanical. He just didn't have any moves. And I asume you're giveing ALL credit to Hakeem negating the entire seasons worth of work Pat has done with him?
This is all I have to say about Lebron... Reason being is there are haters and lovers of this guy and I am neither... Just a realist...
There is nothing Lebron cant do, only things Lebron wont do...
I will leave it at that...
Hakeem and Kevin McHale have the best post moves out of all the players i've seen play...
Lebron does post up,but not that often..He seems to do too much thinking and he has Poor Footwork in the post..Thats why he looks uncomfortable down low...
He has to get comfortable down there..Becuz he's much stronger than alot of players that will be guarding him..Working with Hakeem should help him improve his footwork....
and for you @andxxx saying he's a great passer out of the post is just plain retarded... He doesn't even look to score half the time, he's LOOKING to PASS... I really didn't understand why the Bulls continued to double team him down there... They didn't do that when Tim was in Boston...
Whatever, it does SOUND great that he's doing this, but this also comes from a man who told everyone he always work on his game and add stuff to it... The only thing he has improved is his consistency on his particular game... Better 3pt and freethrow %'s... I'm still not sold on his mid-range either... I rarely see him hit those shots and I truly wonder how they obtained those stats...
But if he does improve in the post, mid-range, and get an easy go to move (other than going to the hole, I think Boston showed you he needs that), he will be considered the Greatest to EVER touch a basketball... Say whatever you won't, but it would be no way to stop him... Combine that with his passing, as far as SKILLS he would have surpassed MJ...
I swear let LeBron come into the season with all that, Scottie and I won't be the only ones saying that... I hope he get it... Man 2 of the Greatest of all-time within my lifetime... DOPE..
But then I realized I am talking about him ====> LeBron...
Ain't gone happen, never *In my New New voice*
put it like this....Lebron shouldve been working with Hakeem a long time ago and I am surprised that this is just now coming to fruition. also this is a no-lose situation, working with Hakeem can ONLY help LBJ.
Hakeem has amazing footwork, we all know that. Going back to the Burrough workouts....Junior was a very strong PF but he had quick feet. His junior season...his footwork was not as crisp...Hakeem definitely helped in that area and Junior was like a mini-Hakeem/McHale at UVA.
While people focus on the great footwork lessons, thats not all that Hakeem teaches. He teaches how to use timing and quick feet to keep the defender at a disadvantage. He teaches how to explode of the catch into a turn around. He shows that by adding a few subtle moves, your post game can become more and more unpredictable.
LBJ has a VERY predictable post game, thats why he looks so uncomfortable. If Hakeem works on him with just a couple of moves, you guys will see, LBJ (especially with his passing ability) will be a totally different person in the post....take that to the bank.
I dont consider LBJ as swagger jacking Kobe. Why?
- Kobe never TRAINED with Olajuwon to my knowledge (like Howard, Thabeet, etc). They had a 2-hour workout in which Kobe wanted Dream to show him some of his moves.
- Kobe was not the first player to seek Olajuwon...and as I stated above, there were college players who trained with Hakeem for whole summers.
- Kobe is a student of the game, he just wanted to get some tips from Dream...but...Kobe was ALREADY had a good post up game....LBJ's post up game is in need of improvement.
- Kobe worked out with Shammgod more than he did Olajuwon...I dont hear anyone saying that Ben Gordon (who had Shammgod as a dribbling coach) swagger jacked Kobe.
- Lebron is actually in a "training class" something that Kobe did not need.
- Its views as a Kobe-jack because Kobe is the best player to be associated with Dream in that fashion.
- There have been numerous players to workout with Hakeem before it became trendy.
Kobe and Lebron are both great students of the game but the premise of Kobe's workout with Hakeem and LBJ's training is different. Kobe didnt need to spend a vast amount of time with Hakeem, LBJ does. I think it will work out for the best....oh, enjoy the video below.
I'll have to see him in action to see if it's going to make a big difference. Lebron in the past has looked very uncomfortable with his back to the basket, even against smaller/weaker players. If his work with Hakeem makes him more comfortable on the block then I could see that being a huge asset to his game, but you can have all the moves in the world, but if you're not used to the block and feel out of place you're still going to revert to old habits.
If he takes to the post like Kobe, then watch out, but the post game isn't something everyone can pick up and be comfortable with. Either way it's a step in the right direction for Lebron, I'm just not quite ready to call him unstoppable without seeing him yet.
I've been saying for the past couple years they flash Lebron to the high post so he could utilize his passing ability and if a lazy defender doesn't want to close out he's lights out from 15 ft. Miami doesn't have a center that has a great back to the basket game, but if Lebron becomes more comfortable on the block having two guys in James and Bosh who are quick, athletic,can shoot and pass is a scary combo.
After his freshman season Hakeem worked out with Moses Malone for 3 months in Houston. Next season, he was a totally different player. I would like to think that being mentored by the 2x NBA MVP (at the time) had something to do with it.
not his post game. Of course, if the Heat had a legitimate PF or C with solid post game he wouldn't have to.
I think you will see a difference...because like I said, this is not a 2-hour workout, this is training...like for a boxing match...and what do you do when you train for a boxing match? You work on repetition. Doing certain things over and over and over again until you dont have to think about it...you just instinctively DO IT. I think you will see a difference...if I had to guess, I would say Dream is gonna show him how to put that lil faint and head movement in there and teach LBJ how to explode into his turn-around jumpshots. With LBJ being a deadly passer, once he gets the post down, he will be a better player.
Someone mentioned here that is Hakeem going to teach LBJ how to play in the last minutes of a game. The reason why LBJ doesnt have a killer instinct is because in the post he doesnt have the comfort level or confidence....repetition will help with that.
Olajuwon said his style of play in the paint is really suited for a guy like Bryant.
“In my mind most of my moves for a guy (with) that agility can use it better than the big guy,” Olajuwon said. “Because my moves are not really for the big guy."
“It’s for the guards and small forwards. So he would benefit most on the post because of his agility."
Going off topic a bit, but just got to thinking about it because of the subject.
Dwight Howard has almost no excuse not to continue his post development. Hakeem taught him a lot of basic post moves last summer, but he works with Ewing every day in practice. If Howard could ever become comfortable enough in his jump shot to learn Ewings' post fade away he'd be unstoppable in today's center weak NBA.
I don't get why ppl say Lebron doesn't have a killer instinct. He has bad games sure, but it seems like when he has a bad game its always that he's choking and can't handle the pressure. Its like his performances against the '07 Pistons, '09 Magic and the Bulls and Celtics from this past year never happened.
^ I think its because in most peoples minds, its the very biggest moments (FINALS) that truly count. this is heightened by the fact that LBJ and the Heat placed an enormous amount of pressure on themselves to win it all and they raised the bar so high, so it seemed like he choked because he didnt have great 4th quarters. I think he is a KILLER...he was with Cleveland...I just think he defers more to Wade in Miami.
See Kobe's '04 NBA finals and '08 finals. He had bad games in the finals as well, but is still considered one of the most clutch players in the league. Every great player has had bad games in big moments even MJ in the '96 finals. Not saying Lebron is on the level of those players, especially at this point, but I'm just saying all great players have had moments when they don't perform up to par it happens
LeBron kind of reminds me of a cross between Karl Malone and Charles Barkley. I guess a good old school combination would be Elgin Baylor and Oscar Robertson (I am going off what I have heard, read, and seen clips and stats of these guys) which is pretty good for LeBron but those talents not translating into a ton of titles for those guys, with Oscar Robertson being the only one of those guys with a ring.
Maybe it's hard for guys like that to win titles. Not sure.
The Big O had some of the best looking all-around stat lines ever and LeBron is putting up similar stats today. But, Robertson's production really started to tail off after his 9th season (this upcoming season will be LeBron's 9th year in the league).
The Heat need to run some better plays for LeBron and need to cut down on iso's. I think Bosh will be very important for them next year. Hopefully Hakeem works with Bosh too. There's no reason why Bosh can't have the best low post game in the NBA -- similar to Kevin McHale or Pau Gasol at his peak a couple of years ago. If Bosh really gets going and puts up 20-22 points and 10 or 11 rebounds every night then the Heat will be in great shape and will allow Wade and LeBron to pick their spots more.
LeBron also needs to work with Magic Johnson who was more of a hybrid point guard who had a pretty good shot later in his career with a jump hook and a good post game. So LeBron could work the post but also pass the ball around and also get defensive rebounds then run the floor for a one man fast break like Magic used to do.
It's about time... It only took him eight seasons. It's better late than never though.
He doesn't even have to become great in the post... To be honest, he just needs to get comfortable down there and pick up a go-to move or two. Then it's a wrap. He doesn't need to gain footwork like Kobe, Dirk, etc (he'll never get that anyway... takes years and years to achieve).
The fact that he's focusing on this great. I'm sure the Heat will make an effort to get him the ball down there more, which should open up things for the WHOLE entire offense. IF LeBron can start drawing double teams in the post, he'll be even that much tougher to defend. I've been saying this for years and just waiting for him to become a complete player. As I said during his Cleveland years... He'd have won a championship with that roster if he had a complete game.
The Heat need to run some better plays for LeBron and need to cut down on iso's.
Which will start happening when he gains a complete game. Once LeBron is completely comfortable playing off off/moving without the ball, in the low/mid/high post, etc... They'll be able to run any play for him.
People blame LeBron's coaches for all of the isolation sets, but what people don't seem to understand is that that's playing to LeBron's strengths.
Jordan and the Bulls shut the door on Malone. Plus the West was pretty stacked. I dont think it was anything more Malone couldve done to get a championship with the Jazz.
Jordan and the Bulls shut the door on Barkley too, but...I will say it again, Barkley NEVER had the work ethic off the court....if he did, he wouldve won a championship somewhere down the line.
LBJ's main problem has been timing. He ran into a more talented and better coached Spurs squad. He happened to run into the first "Big 3" in Boston, and Orlando made significant strides during his Cavs tenure. He will win some titles...more than Oscar, who he is probably most comparable with than the other two guys as far as career....but I dont know if he will get 5 rings. He does have the core in Miami to do it though.
LBJ doesn't have a killer instinct because no matter how good he plays throughout, he always manages to choke when it matters the most. He and Wade DO NOT play good TOGETHER. Is it a coincidence that when LBJ was dominating the Bulls Wade was nowhere to be found, or that while Wade was killing Dallas, LBJ was MIA. Until LBJ learns the post or off ball movement this team will never win a title. Just like Spoelstra said, they like to have LBJ domintae for half a game and Wade the other half with Bosh playing off of those TWO. Boston's big 3 managed to play off of each other in a perfectly balanced way. Shooter who NEVER needed the ball to be offensively effective, a 4 who could hit the jumper efficiently but also hit big shots wit his back to the basket(albeit while fading away) and an alpha dog go to scorer who could play off ball, spot up, post up or attack the basket all while being unselfish.
The Heat BIG 3 have bought into the Defensive mindset and unselfish mindset, now it's a matter of leanring to make EACH OTHER better while playing off of one another. IMO, the team would be better suited with Wade working with Hakeem on a post game. He's already a far better post player IMO.
I think the main point of Lebron improving in any area of is game is to win championships and establish the Miami Heat as a dynasty right now. However there is an underated side to this I don't think anyone has mentioned yet.
By refining his post game Lebron can probably extend his career 4-5 years by reinventing himself (perhaps as a PF) after his athleticism starts to decline. Magic was beginning to do this when HIV effectively ended his career. Lebron is a bull of a man and should be able to get good to great post position at any time even against PF's in the league. Imagine a team having to double as great a passer as Lebron in the low post. IMO it could give the Heat a much needed offensive wrinkle and open the cutting lanes for Wade.
Thats what he sid he did last offseason. Worked extensively on his post game so that whatever team he went to could play him at the 4 as much as needed. Still didn't work out. Still waiting to see it. Still waiting for a 4th quarter. Still simply waiting on LBJ.
I thought Jordan and Kobe didn't have advanced post moves till the late 20s, early 30s? Isn't Lebron only 26? MJ didn't win his first 'chip till he was 28 and Kobe didn't get his first finals MVP until he was 30. I also assume anytime you have a bad game its considered choking as well. Some of the comments make you forget that Lebron had any success at all and it seems like people only watched the finals and nothing else.
D. Wade doesn't think the Heat need to play off of each other lol. He thinks they just need to take turns isolating while the other just stands there and watches.
andxxx, Kobe has had a terrific post game for quite some time. Simply that he's only just now getting to really use it. but go back and look at the early-mid 2000's and you will see that.
@indiana, when did DWade say they didn't need t be able to play off of each other that they could win by isoing and just standing around? That ish just sounds ignorant if he said that. Anyone with basketball knowledge knows yo uneed to be able to play off of your teammates. It's why a team like Boston and Detroit work so good together. Because you each have a certain thing you're great at and bring to the table. If this is true, I'm fairly dissapointed in Wade.
Couldn't you say the same thing about Bron though? This past season he shot 54% from the post with over 150 attempts. You could say his post game is solid, but just doesn't use it enough. I also heard on PTI that Kobe doubled the amount of times he went to the post after working with Hakeem
I think it's funny that people are criticizing and doubting Lebron, despite the fact that he's making an effort to get better. This literally would happen to no other player.
u r absolutely right. Lebron is such a great player, maybe the most talented of all time, but the better you are the more people try to find flaws. he has flaws in his game just like everyone, but because he is so good, when people find a flaw in his game, it gets magnified 10x, because his stardom is magnified. he is a good post player now, he does have a lot of room for improvement and obviously he doesnt feel as comfortable down there as he does on the perimeter or on the break because those areas are where he is stronger. Lebron will always take criticism and he may never win 5 or 6 titles....but this aint boxing or golf...this is a team sport and the circumstances have to really be in place to win titles because it just is not as easy as people think.