LeBron James is perhaps the most celebrated and criticized athlete of his generation. His career arc is well documented, going from being perceived as one of the NBA’s worst clutch performers to a solidified all-time great. In a clip from the most recent episode of HBO’s The Shop: UninterruptedJames was asked if he thinks about missing a game-winning shot before he takes it or the failure that comes along with it.
“No. Maybe when I was younger,” James said. “Because I cared about what everybody else thought. I don’t give a f— now.”
James received the bulk of his criticism in 2010–11 when he left the Cavaliers to join the Heat in free agency and joined fellow All Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. In his first year there, James was criticized for relying on Wade in late-game situations—specifically not taking late-game shots—and deferring to teammates. It all came to a head when the Heat were upset by the Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, in which James had a disappointing series.
James would hit his stride the next season, though, and won back-to-back MVPs and NBA titles. The four-time champion was asked when his mindset changed and he said at 25—the age he left Cleveland.
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“It probably changed, to me, about 25 [years old],” he said. “I went to Miami that first year and everything was about, like, still what everybody else thought and then I literally just, like … ‘I don’t give a f— what nobody think. I’m him.’”
He went on to detail how he was constantly criticized for “making the right play,” by passing the ball to an open teammate when defenses collapsed on him.
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