MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – LeBron James became the lightning rod of the league last summer when he joined the Miami Heat.
Monday, a humbled James talked with the media about how the team is responding to the NBA Finals loss and what he sees for the coming season.
“We used some of the failures to help us get better,” LeBron said. “We know what it takes to get there and hopefully we’ll have a better result if we happen to get back to that point (NBA Finals).”
James wasn’t one to make excuses for how the Heat came just two games short of winning the NBA championship next season. Still, he said that the Heat, as good as they were last year, never were the team players believed they could be.
“We never got to a point where we were at full strength at no point in the season,” LeBron said. “I think we never got to the lineup we all envisioned until game 2 of the Chicago series.”
LeBron said he and new teammate Shane Battier are interchangeable and that Battier shoots the ball better from long-range than he does. But, LeBron said that the team is once again going to be about great team defense.
“We’re going to be good defensively,” James said. “We have a system and our coaching staff does a great job implementing it. We’re head above heels from where we started last year.”
Part of James’ biggest transition last season was going from being the most popular player in the game to being arguably the most hated player in all of sports. James looked and sounded like a changed man Monday.
“It was a tough situation for myself,” LeBron said. “I looked at my numbers and played pretty well over the course of the season. It was a tough transition, coming here, and going through what I went through. I learned from it.”
As for the Heat’s newest addition, first-round draft pick Norris Cole; LeBron said that Cole is wise beyond his age and that he’s a great player to add into the Heat’s rotation.
“I think he is beyond his age; given the fact that he spent four years in college really helped him,” LeBron said. “He had four years of college and is very mature for his age. He’s quick, strong and comes from a good program at Cleveland State.”
LeBron continued, “I’m going to keep a hand on him just like I always did with rookies that look like they have potential.”
And when it comes to the possibility of playing back-to-back-to-back games in the upcoming compressed, 66-game schedule; LeBron isn’t worried about any of it.
“I don’t care if we have 16 games in 16 days; I’m excited to be back here,” James said.