Lebron is considered one of the greatest ever to play the game, but in his long career, he did have his share of failures. One of the biggest disappointments in his career was the loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals of 2011. The first year of the Big Three and fresh after The Decision, he was an NBA villain, and his failure echoed around the league. Many critics welcomed that and put even more pressure on Lebron for his inability to win the championship.
So next year, when they were down 3-2 to the Celtics in the ECF, he admitted the fear for his legacy pushed him to have a great game 6. Even though he played well, Paul Pierce outplayed him in the first part of that series. In Game 5, Lebron had a poor shooting game and Pierce drained a 3-pointer in the final minute to seal the game.
While talking to Brian Windhorst in a live Instagram chat, Lebron admitted that he felt that Pat Riley might trade him or his costars if they did not pass the Celtics that year.
“My mentality was if we lose, [Heat president] Pat Riley may break us all up. And I [didn’t] want that. It might be the quickest breakup in basketball history.”
In reality, Riley did not contemplate that, and he added Ray Allen the next summer, which shows his belief in James, Wade, and Bosh.
This mindest might explain why Lebron locked in that game. He tortured Celtics that night, and by the end of the game, he had 45 points and 15 rebounds. He was 10 of 11 from the field and had 30 points by halftime. Coach Spoelstra helped him by adjusting the game plan. The Teat played with Lebron on the mid and high post. In this position, Lebron played of his strengths and tortured the Celtics all game long.
The Heat continued to use this plan for the remainder of the playoffs, Lebron won his first Larry O’Brien trophy and Finals MVP in the series against a young OKC squad.
“Win, lose or draw, I had to be focused. I had to lock in and lead us to victory. I didn’t know if it was going to happen that way, but that was my mindset.”
That was the start of a new Lebron, the one with a clutch gene, something he was criticized for the majority of his career.