I REMEMBER MY first taste of winning. It was at a Junior Olympic regional tournament. I wanted more. I wanted that feeling again. That winning feeling gradually dissipates as the days go on, and you want to do it again. When can I do it again? It's an addiction.
But it's not necessarily the best fighter or the best player that wins. There's so much more involved in sports than the physical element.
LeBron is just a baby; he's only 29 years old. If he just keeps living positive, living his life, a lot of good things are going to happen to him, even after losing this championship. He has come further than most people in the history of the sport, and he hasn't reached his peak yet. He has nothing to be ashamed of. He just needs to stay healthy and keep a positive frame of mind.
I heard that he called himself the "easiest target" in sports. It's him and Floyd Mayweather Jr., no doubt about it. LeBron is great. When you comment about him, you get attention. Such and such said LeBron is this He gives light to people's negativity.
Critics don't know how difficult it is. Training is harder than the game. Somebody who has never played basketball a day in his life, he's judging LeBron for his every move, his every mistake. They don't know what it's like to put in the perspiration to become that person, to become LeBron. Do you know how many great basketball players there are who don't become stars?
Sometimes when LeBron is on the podium with Dwyane Wade, they take these questions and have to be defensive and say, "I don't care." How could they not care? This is their life's dream. Sometimes you don't want to give the critics the satisfaction of thinking that you care. You're in dire need of winning, you're desperate to win, so you have to care. If you didn't care, you wouldn't be playing at this level.
We only pretend not to care to take back control from the naysayers. Criticism gets to all of us. It deflates our ego. We're in a perfection-obsessed world, but perfection can never happen.
When I was the champ, I was criticized like LeBron, but mine was probably warranted. I was different than LeBron. I would attack my critics. I would physically attack them. My experience in life has taught me that you can't take it personally. My prior life was basically sex, drugs, alcohol, violence. I don't believe I'm that person now.
The Michael Jordan comparisons will always be there for LeBron. We can only be the best in our own time. I never considered myself a great fighter, or the greatest fighter, even if I might have said that. Muhammad Ali was the greatest. No doubt. Neophytes in boxing have no idea. In his prime, Ali looked more like a model than a fighter, but he's mean and as tough as a junkyard dog. Don't go in there and expect to knock him out. It's going 15 rounds with him. He went 15 rounds like it was nothing. He was the type of guy, you could shoot him with a shotgun. If he wasn't dead, he was coming back at you.
LeBron just has no idea how great his life will be if he continues to stay positive, the way he is. No one has anything really bad to say about him as a human being. The criticism is about certain decisions he has made, about whatever, and it comes out of envy. Life is always going to be like that.
The Spurs have done a lot for the history of basketball. They won because they deserved to win, not because of what LeBron didn't do.
The Michael Jordan factor will always be there for LeBron. We can only be the best in our own time.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SI PREMEDIA: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (TYSON); RON HOSKINS/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (JAMES)