How Bad Do You Want It?

“How bad do you want it”, that’s the question I asked myself while watching the buzzer-beating crazy shot Lebron James made in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors. In case you missed it:

Lebron, now 33, is at the peak of his NBA career, and probably the best he has ever been. When you watch him play, he makes it look too easy…he almost makes the impossible seem possible and because he has been consistently improving, your perception of “oh well that was a lucky shot” fades away. You have no choice but to respect his greatness. But greatness doesn’t come easy, it comes through years of practice, dedication, persistence, and perseverance. That’s what makes Lebron an outlier – not just his freakish genetics, but mental toughness and solid character which breads his one-of-a-kind persona.

I thought of writing this article to show you just how tough the road to success really is, and that nothing good ever comes easy – because everything worth doing takes time.

Being patient & making difficult decisions

Lebron started his professional career in 2003 (straight from high school at only 18 years old), and remained with the Cleveland Cavaliers until 2010 – and although they made it to the playoffs several times, the Cavs never managed to win. Seven years of giving it everything he had, but never able to close the gap…or hoist that trophy. As a free agent in 2010, Lebron decided to take his talents elsewhere.

He moved to the Miami Heat.

Well-before being the global phenom he is, James was (and still is of course) a native hero to the city of Cleveland. He was born and raised in Akron, Ohio and went to St. Vincent-St. Mary high school. He lead his school and won the Division 3 State Title for 2 years in a row. He also won several awards like Mr. Basketball of Ohio and was inducted in his high school’s hall of fame. So, as you can imagine, making the decision to leave the Cavs in 2010 was not an easy decision by any means – leaving the Cavs to Lebron must have felt like turning your back on your home… your family.

Overcoming doubt and silencing the haters

Skip to minute 17:00

[James]: “In my mind that whole year, it wasn’t the same guy who fell in love with the game of basketball. It wasn’t. I could feel it like every single game, it was so heavy on me. From the decision to the game on the roads, to being booed – the aura around us was so bad and I was like I’m not this guy (playing the villain role) but if they want this guy, then I’ll be him. I was somebody that year that I wasn’t my whole life – I was playing a role, being somebody, and trying to make everyone happy instead of putting my happiness first…listening to people, critics, and of course the haters.”

In his first year with Miami, and with all the pressure building up, James and the team were still unable to win a championship.

[James]: “It took so much out of me, so after the season I didn’t leave my room for 2 weeks – I looked like Tom Hanks from Castaway, I looked terrible. I was done, and I felt like if I don’t win this coming year that I’d be buried under a cemetery. Luckily, Dwayne Wade called me and said let’s go to the Bahamas – and we had some great conversations there. D-Wade said in order for us to be great, you have to be THE guy. In order for us to accomplish what we need to, you need to be the guy that you were in Cleveland for us here in Miami – and I’ll take a step back for you.”

In 2012, Miami won the championship, and for Lebron, this was 9 years in the making. The Heat went on to win back-to-back in 2013 as well.

Overcoming all odds and persevering

In 2014, James opted out of his contract with the Heat and became a free agent. He made the decision to come back to Cleveland, play for the Cavs and help them win a championship.

In 2015, the Cavs finished the year with 57 wins and the best record in the East. They made the playoffs and were advancing comfortably to the finals. When they reached the final stretch, to face the strong Golden State Warriors – Cleveland fell behind 3-1, including two blowout losses. James responded by getting back-to-back 41 point games in games 5 and 6, gave the Cavs some hope. In game 7, he posted a triple-double, and won Cleveland the city’s first professional sports title in 52 years and becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 series deficit in the finals.

So, my parting question to you is…