MIAMI – His former team’s “Hit Culture” slogan is painted at half court in front of him as he rests on a baseline seat after shooting Monday. LeBron James A reflection of what his time with the franchise has meant to his career that has now spanned more than two decades.
“I think I’d still be at this level if I came here or not,” said the Los Angeles Lakers star, now in his 21st season. “Let’s not get it twisted: The four years I’ve been here, it’s been amazing. I’m about it Loved everything. Loved this franchise, this franchise is top notch, one of the best franchises in the world.
“But as far as my career, my career is going to be my career personally, because I know how much I put into the game and I know how much I try to be the best I can be. [But] “As far as what I learned here was second to none, that’s for sure.”
James was 25 when he arrived in South Beach in 2010. In his first seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he had zero championships, two MVPs and one NBA Finals appearance. By the time he left Miami in 2014, he had increased those totals to two titles, four MVPs, five trips to the Finals and two Finals MVPs, and was instrumental in a 27-game winning streak in 2012-13 — the second longest streak in league history. .
“I came here for one reason and one reason only, and that was to win a championship,” James said. “That was my only goal. That was the only reason I joined the team [Dwyane] Wade and [Chris] tame Because I felt like I couldn’t do it in Cleveland. we couldn’t …I tried to recruit guys to come to Cleveland. I tried going upstairs to help and it wasn’t happening. So I had the opportunity to be a free agent so I did what I thought was right, not just for my career, but for me at the time.”
James said it was a ceremonial time in his life, not just in his career, but because he uprooted himself from the only home he’s ever known in Northeast Ohio to settle in South Florida.
“It was a culture change for me,” James said. “People talk about ‘hit culture’ — it was a culture change, period. I was changing everything in my life for the first time in my life. To be here and learn and be able to be around D-Wade, UD [Udonis Haslem] and spo [Erik Spoelstra] — the guys who have already won it — it was definitely cool to be a part of it.”
Miami will wear its City Edition uniforms when it hosts the Lakers, with “Heat Culture” stitched on the jerseys to complement the specialized court that will play on it with a message painted in lane block letters: “Hardest work. Best conditioned. “Most professional. selfless the hardest the worst Worst team in the NBA.”
James, who ranks the Heat as model franchises in all sports — including the NBA’s Lakers and San Antonio Spurs and the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots — said a strong team culture can only exist if the players buy in. takes
“Obviously, it starts at the top, but at the end of the day it’s the guys in the locker room that hold the guys accountable,” he said. “You can have messaging coming from the top, but if guys don’t live up to it or double down on it in the locker room and then apply it on the floor and apply it off the court and be model citizens, or whatever it may be, then it doesn’t matter. .”
It’s not the first time James has fired up the Steelers this season. As the Lakers opened their road trip with a 120-101 loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday, dropping to 3-3, he compared LA’s early-season lead to Pittsburgh’s performance.
“We’re like the Pittsburgh Steelers now,” James said. “The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t outplayed or outplayed any of their opponents this season, and yet they still have a winning record.”
In fact, Pittsburgh is 5-3 but has been outscored 163-133 overall and has accumulated 2,228 yards on offense while allowing 3,018 yards on defense. Likewise, the Lakers are .500 but have been outscored by 61 points in the first quarter — the worst point differential of any team through six games since the Detroit Pistons in 1964-65. According to data compiled from Second Spectrum, LA ranks 29th in 3-point percentage (29.7%) and 28th in catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage and wide-open 3-point percentage.