Video: Doc Rivers says he saw an epic change in LeBron James in Miami
LeBron James’ decision to switch teams and head down to the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010 sent shockwaves throughout the NBA. It ended up being one of the more grueling times in Cleveland Cavaliers history, but it did help shape what would be a championship level roster just four years later.
James went to Miami with a lot of personal accolades, but didn’t know how to win an NBA Championship. After four years and two titles in Miami, James knew exactly what it took to win a title and wanted to bring that “top-of-the-world” feelings to Cleveland as well as Northeast Ohio.
L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who was then the coach of the Boston Celtics team that had beaten LeBron James’ Cavs multiple times in the late 2000’s, realized there was something different about James that would cause trouble for the rest of the league.
We beat him a couple times when he was in Cleveland, he was not that way. I’ve never seen a change in a player. I knew we were in trouble in Miami.
When he was in Cleveland he was just playing basketball. We get to Miami and he’s calling our plays out, he’s staring over at our bench, he’s reading stuff. And I remember saying, ‘Oh this is not good. This is not good.'”
Doc Rivers remembers seeing a change in LeBron James when he went to Miami: "I remember saying, this is not good…"
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 5, 2016
The true change to LeBron James’ game likely came when the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals. James really took charge of the team after that, leading the Heat to the 2012 and 2013 NBA titles.
When he returned home to Northeast Ohio, James took that same charge of this Cavs team and almost won the 2015 NBA title without their two biggest guns in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. A year after that Finals loss, and James helped the city of Cleveland celebrate a professional sports title for the first time in over 52 years.