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Monday, December 26th, 2011 at 9:00 am  |  45 responses

LeBron James: ‘I’m Just a Better Player Than I Was Last Year’


by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

In just over 36 minutes against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, LeBron James led the Miami Heat to a dominant win, while posting a “quiet” statline of 37 points, 10 boards, 6 assists and 2 blocks (while being routinely spectacular.)

And it didn’t seem as though James even broke a sweat once during the game.

LBJ promises to play much more freely and happily this year — last season’s ill-fitting villain role has been tossed aside — and after having tinkered with his game during the extended offseason (most notably, his lowpost game), LeBron says he’s coming into this season as a vastly improved player.

From Yahoo! Sports:

James, however, was unmoved by the Heat’s dominating 105-94 rout of the Mavs in Sunday’s season opener. If last season taught James anything, it’s that no one cares how you start the season. It’s all about how you finish. “I got a lot of work to do still,” James said matter-of-factly. “I’m just a better player than I was last year.”

“I just think he has just done a great job of being a student of the game,” teammate Dwyane Wade said. “He’s coming back this year more comfortable and more confident.” [...]“I can’t afford to come back and not be a better player and dwell on what happened,” James said. “It was for time for me to get better.” Said Wade: “That’s the LeBron James we want to see for 66-plus games. If we do that, we’ll be very successful.”

“I just wasn’t myself,” James said of last season. “There was a lot going on, on the court and off the court. So, once I was able to figure the things to get better individually on the court and off the court, I was able to focus on my game and get better. I’m happy where I am right now. It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.”

The Miami Heat were already considered by many as the heavy favorites to win the 2012 NBA title, and now their best player (also widely considered the best player in the whole League) has improved his game, and is in a better place mentally than he’s ever been.

I can’t imagine that any of the other teams in the League are too happy with these developments.

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  • Yann Blavec

    Until the Knicks beat you in the playoffs.

  • Jono

    The man was doing it all, basic post moves, jumpers, fast-breaks and great passes. Another MVP trophy?

  • http://Slam.com Illwill

    He’s a added a lil face up jumper on the block now he never had that be4

  • ALEX80

    LeBron ,bring this haters skeptic muddafu(kas on their knees now.

  • MUBWAR

    that new mid range face up is nice. post game is still in works. But can you and wade please share the ball with the other star on the team. they both shoot over 21 shots but bosh gets 8. common now

  • truthteller

    We’ve seen all this before. WE know Lebroon can play. The question is cann he come through in the clutch and win a championship? Holla at me when he does that!

  • fruizm

    Im not even a LeBron fan, but somehow, I really wish he kills it this year!

  • robb

    We know how good Lebron is, let’s wait until the next finals and see if he’s really improved

  • jose

    he needs to clean that post-up game some more, but as sloppy as it appeared, he still made most of his attempts. .. will be scary when he cleans it up

  • http://sdfjklf.com Jukai

    Well, let’s not hand him the next four championship trophies just yet. There are always games where Lebron does things that he doesn’t usually do but makes it look easy.
    If he really has improved his midrange, low-post, and ball movement like it looks like he did and it continues all season and not just a handful of games… well, then exactly what are the flaws that still exist in Lebron’s game?

  • ai come back

    bosh had 5 fouls and played 24 minutes…….

  • boss

    LLLOL knicks? miami would shred them lebron improved and it finaly showed hes posting moving withouth the ball free throws looked good hes back to himself and better

  • Yesse

    I hope these new abilities will help him play in the last quarter then.

  • MUBWAR

    knicksssssss. woow ny fans are ridiculous. if Melo didn’t went on a tare in the 4q plus the stupid ref who giving techs on the c’s boston had this game without PP. let’s hope they can beat the Bulls so that Melo and bron can have a classic in the ECF

  • Red

    Knicks can’t beat the Bulls they barely beat the Celtics. On another note, this is all hype. We know Lebron can play he’s had a post-up game HE WAS AN MVP AT SMALL FORWARD..you got to be kidding me if u guys are feeding info this.

  • Red

    Into* dumb autocorrect

  • Vince5

    April 15th, the Heat are at MSG. Can’t wait!

  • http://nyill.wordpress.com/ O

    I HATE the Heat, but i’m not gonna lie, they’re looking like NBA champions right now. We’ll know more when they play the C’s tomorrow. I wanna see KG grab Bosh’s throat like he did Bill Walker.

  • T-Money

    The low block is not the priority, Bron should stay about that midpost turn around J life. He can get that shot off whenever he wants and needs to grow comfortable with it.

  • T-Money

    And the fact that he can drop 37-10-6 and people aresaying that its “quiet” or even “sloppy” tells you how special he is.

  • MikeK13

    Still won’t get him a ring

  • charliewinning

    The Bulls beat the Knicks ONE TIME last season. Knicks have improved since then, so idk where the Knicks/Bulls talk is coming from. In terms of the Celts, people bring up PP being out last night as an excuse but Amare’s absence in the playoffs was more significant than PP’s missed game. Haters take double standards to the extreme on this site.

  • T-Ray

    I agree with those saying we’ll wait til the finals BUT you gotta admit dude’s new face up j is nice! He doesn’t even lower it he just keeps it head level. I also like the way he’s moving without the ball so he doesn’t have to always go iso.

  • Drunyce

    His post game has NOT arrived so the media needs to relax with all this one game hype. You can tell he worked on it though. It doesn’t matter what he does in the regular season. What will he do when it’s “winning” time? TBD…

  • AQWORD

    WORD to T-RAY. + looks like his lefty game is slightly better too. HATERS can’t front unless they’re on DEEZ NUTZ !! :-) go on give em’ a little lick. 8===D

  • 2307

    i love the knicks hype, lets not forget their record actually declined when melo arrived and although they have chandler it doesnt make up for their other defensive liabilities! the knicks are still as it stands a second round team at the very best! personally i dont see them beating the celts heat or bulls in a series

  • Matt Park

    Wow. If he learned how to move without the ball better, learned a faceup post game, and improved his midrange game, it’s game over for the rest of the league… And IF he did, he certainly showed us that on opening night.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Bulls only beat knicks one time last year ,so they wouldn’t have won in the playoffs? how many times did the bulls beat the heat again in the regular season?

  • http://slamonline.com BossTerry

    The problem with LeBron, is he talks to much. Let your actions speak for you like Mj and Kobe’s did. We all know he has all the talent in the world, and if he is in fact better than he was last year, show it, don’t say it. I stopped believing anything he said after he verbally agreed to be in “next year’s” dunk contest, only to once again be a spectator.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    the knicks will get stomped in the playoffs. beat the celtics w/ their full roster AND smack the bulls around and we can talk about you guys contending. and good luck staying healthy.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    also I don’t think lebron ha any major, major holes in his game anymore. He can beat you almost any way now.

  • charliewinning

    LOL these haters worst basketball fear is the Knicks putting in work. You mad? I’m not even the gloating type of fan, but I’ll be sure to revisit the site every single time the Slam brainiacs are wrong– so I’ll be here a lot.

  • Mburb321

    BLAH BLAH BLAH..he gets better every year. Last year it was a more balanced jumper, hes 3pt % was through the roof remember? You Lebron fans told us the whole league was in trouble and that he couldn’t be stopped!! Then when it truly counts,he shrinks in the limelight and chokes leaving all of you staring at your screen in disbelief. Im sure some of you felt sick to your stomach, some of you wanted to cry, and all of you were just speechless. Well guess what, HE DOESNT HAVE A SKILL SET PROBLEM HE HAS A MENTAL ONE!

  • riggs

    all of this regular season crap doesnt matter. Its playoffs/finals that he has to prove himself.

  • Zoom

    Why all you haters so mad if he says somethin?! Can’t the guy ever speak without being dissed? LeBron is BOSS(;

  • boboho

    lalalala.funny the best part last match when brian cardinal became a champion and lebron not.kharma isnt a b”"ch.oh,really?bwahaha

  • http://www.facebook.com/gametimeweezy Gametimeweezy

    cosign charliewinning… braniacs lol

    But anyway LeBron can seriously be scary good as in go on a major tear somewhat like Kobe did in ’05-’06 while in his prime, which is what LeBron is about to reach. Still no rings but this may very well be his ‘breakout’ year.

  • http://www.slamonline.com SMills

    Lebron’s mid-range game is looking the most improved to me. That jumper was too smooth Christmas day.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    lol @ Mburb: Your hatred of LeBron James is a little excessive, don’t you think?

  • Justin G.

    @ Teddy…I don’t know if it’s his hatred of Lebron or his hatred of Lebron fans who say the same thing every year. He’s right to an extent though, about those that say the league is in trouble because he’s improved this or that. Getting all hyped over one game, especially the first of the year where I bet 90% of the players didn’t want to be on the court, is a little much.

  • trueballer4life

    LEbron james and the heat will win 5 championships and own the league! watch an see! the next 5 years ………

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    Once again Lebron speaks before he’s actually done anything. It’s one game, saying you’re a better player after dominating a team which was subsequently destroyed by Denver is nothing when you’re weaknesses are most apparent in close games. Lebron should avoid making any statements for the rest of the season and just play.

  • LA Huey

    I love me some LBJ but let’s cool it on what he’s added to his game until we get about 10 games in. I mean, if Josh Smith hits 3/4 treys in his first game out the gate, we’re not necessarily going to say dude’s a threat from deep. However, I do like that he showed an eagerness to start in the post and his movement off the ball is a great sign.

  • Red

    Haters? You mean having an opinion on a comment board is called being a hater? Then you are too by your logic. And Knicks won’t do anything, Knicks got only Carmelo to carry the load and if he carries it long enough he’ll piss off Amare. Plus Knicks are good but not that good by any means. And Lebron was MVP back to back, you’re saying he couldn’t beat teams in every way then? Yes he’s improved and tweaked things but has always been the same versatile player, he plays multiple positions. This is all hype.

  • Mburb321

    @teddy nah man I have no hate towards him at all, he just talks too much. Like his new excuse about how he wasn’t himself last year because of how angry he was playing and how he only wanted to prove the haters wrong and now hes back to his old self. What exactly was wrong with how he played last year? He put up MVP numbers and was a beast the first 3 round of the playoffs and then when he chokes in the finals, it was because he was playing too angry?. He didnt lose in the finals because he was too angry or because he was lacking a skill set, he lost in the finals because he choked.

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