10 years ago this week, an 18 year old kid from Akron, Ohio named LeBron James was drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The hype surrounding James coming out of high school was unprecedented. He was set to be the NBA's next big superstar, and, if he was good enough, perhaps the next Michael Jordan. James had the weight of the world on his shoulders before he even played a minute in an NBA game; and with great expectations comes great scrutiny.
James was constantly criticized about not aggressively driving to the basket, a lack of a jump shot, not coming through in pressure situations, and perhaps most glaring, turning his free agency decision into a national spectacle; but with age comes maturity. After receiving his second career NBA Finals loss at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, James knew he had to not only improve the physical aspects of his game, but the mental aspect as well. He no longer paid attention to the media's opinion of him. He instead solely focused on one thing: winning a championship.
His performances the past two postseasons have been nothing short of spectacular. The man has nearly averaged a triple double in back-to-back Finals. His performances in Game 6 and 7 of the Finals showed that James no longer fears pressure, he cherishes it. He wanted the ball in his hands to make the jumper that gave the Heat its second straight title. He even wanted Ray Allen to pass it to him at the top of the key to tie Game 6, but we all know how that turned out.
James' game continues to evolve, and that's the beauty of it. He's in his prime and he's only getting better. He no longer pays attention to the media. He doesn't dwell on the comparisons to Michael Jordan. He's busy writing his own legacy. He's not MJ, he's LJ.