1 Lesson Each Top NBA Superstar Has Learned About Himself in 2012-13
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to our self-help seminar.
I’m pleased to see the your faces today, the elite superstars of the NBA.
You know what? You've already made a big step just showing up here today. Go ahead and give yourself a hand.
(Dwight Howard, looking around, smiling and clapping. Kobe gives him an annoyed look.)
LeBron, Carmelo, it’s good to see you here. I'm glad you all could make it.
I understand from your colleagues that some of you aren’t always tolerant of criticism. Well, that’s OK. Today, we will walk together through the process of self-reflection.
Kobe, please don’t make that face.
(Kobe face turns to Kobe shrug.)
Please, everyone close your eyes. Imagine a world of no criticism. A game of love: a ball, your teammates and a tender coach. No one is here to hurt you. You’re free to express yourself.
How do you see yourself? How do others view you? What changes do you need to make? But mostly, what lessons have you learned about yourself so far this season?
Slowly open your eyes. Now please, everyone open your journal.
Write what comes into your mind.
Kobe Bryant: 'Patience Is a Virtue'
Kobe Bryant is learning that patience is a virtue.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
There is plenty to learn this season.
I guess I do reflect a lot already. I remember how Phil Jackson used to always say these little things that made you think. I used to wonder what Jordan thought about Phil’s sayings.
Man, people love Jordan. I did say that 90 percent of what I've learned and what I've figured out comes from him, and I too have a genuine love for him.
I wonder if people will think of me like Jordan. I want to be better than him. “Air Jordan is no Black Mamba,” they’ll say. I will have his titles. I will have his points.
It won’t be easy getting that sixth title. Time is ticking and you never know how many opportunities are left. Maybe that's why I push so much. Maybe that's why I drive people away.
Each loss this season has been another lesson for me. But I am learning, “Patience is a virtue.” I think that’s one of Phil’s famous quotes.
I guess what I’ve learned most this season is that you can’t force these things. I told reporters that this has been the most difficult stretch of my career. So many expectations, so much losing.
It’s not Mike D’Antoni’s fault either. We’re trying to change everything and it takes time. Mike had knee surgery, has shown up with the season already in stride and run, what, one practice? We won't remake an entire system in one practice.
Patience, I’m learning patience.
That, and I probably should start spending some of this Mamba energy on defense. Membergy. Sounds like another great marketing idea.
Jordan probably doesn’t think of his stuff.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade: ‘Not Everything Is a Crisis”
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have learned not to catastrophize things.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Reflections from Miami:
LeBron: We do everything together.
Wade: We sure do: interviews, offseason events, championships, diary entries, whatever.
LeBron: What have we learned so far?
Wade: That we have to stop worrying. It will work out. People have been on our backs since we joined forces. First season, we nearly won a championship. Second season, we did win a championship. Now, we’re just working toward another run.
LeBron: No one is slipping into crisis mode here.
Wade: We understand the rhythm of an NBA season. We’re also not the only “super team” in this league. But none of them have what we have: the MVP. Personally, my lesson is the cemented realization that for us to be the best team, LeBron has to be the best. I’ve found my way to benefit from that too.
LeBron: Obviously we have things to work on, but we cannot catastrophize everything. Losing three of six in December is not going to cost us a championship. We understand we need to win, we understand we need to settle our rebounding issues, but no one is freaking out.
Wade: Maybe it’s confidence. We’ve been through it all at this point and we understand that the doubters will always doubt.
LeBron: People can point to our two losses to New York and try to discredit this Heat team. Sure, they kicked our tails, and there’s no doubt we took notice. But we’re not going to freak out over it. We’re not even going to listen to the freaking out.
Wade: Nope. We’re not listening.
LeBron: We’re not satisfied with just last year. But we’ve learned our lesson and it’s going to take more than a pair of losses to the Knicks to spook us.
Carmelo Anthony: 'Embracing a Deeper Identity'
Carmelo Anthony is battling more than ever.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Dear Self-Help Guy,
This is about honesty, right?
OK, I admit it. I was peeking over the shoulders of Dwyane and LeBron just a second ago. And they should be worried. I’m not going anywhere this season.
They were chanting M-V-P for me against the Los Angeles Lakers. I’m the best player on the best team, just ask Kobe over there, if you can interrupt those weird No. 23 murmurs.
I’ve learned that it’s not about my individual success, though. Mike Woodson explained it to me, and later helped me Google “intangibles.” The results certainly support the lesson.
Sometimes an identity crisis is a good thing. I've learned to embrace the new me.
This winning thing is fun, and it’s about more than my scoring. I believe I can lift a banner at Madison Square Garden; we have the right recipe in New York this season. I'm 28 years old and I am averaging some of the best numbers of my career.
But more importantly, I'm placing focus on the little things.
It’s about team defense, more emphasis on the boards and understanding that the available shot is not always the best shot.
This sprained ankle shall pass, and I'll once again be considered one of the league's elite superstars.
Rajon Rondo: 'Time to Step It Up'
Rajon Rondo is floating in mediocrity with the Celtics and he is the answer to rise above.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
There is always so much going on in my head. Sometimes I feel like my own worst enemy. I know my temperament needs to change.
Times have changed. I’m no longer the kid. It’s no longer acceptable to lose my head.
Candidly, I feel like a phony. I carry myself as if I’m one of the league’s elite, but I certainly haven’t been playing like it.
If my Celtics have any chance at being a contender, I need to be better than just an All-Star. I need to make the jump to the All-NBA First Team. This third team stuff just isn’t going to cut it.
It’s my team now. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are no longer the leaders; it’s my turn.
I need to be what Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili did in tandem for San Antonio after Tim Duncan took a lesser role. (By the way, I heard Duncan wrote the following, typical-of-him response in his diary entry: “I have little to learn after 16 years.”)
I am learning that, in addition to needing to play at the next level, I also have to accept slumps of mediocrity with this team and not go off the deep end when it happens. More than ever, I need to be the consistent vocal leader.
By the way, I noticed Ray Allen isn’t here.
Chris Paul: ‘Thank goodness I ended up in the other LA’
Chris Paul has changed the culture of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Turns out, this other Los Angeles team might work out for me as a superstar after all.
Depth is chief in this league, and I’ve never had more support. The Clippers have given me the keys to act as the supreme floor leader here. I'm on top of the NBA as the league's most elite point guard.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are a sideshow. The Clippers are at last the better team in Los Angeles, thanks mostly to me; and I’m so glad to be on a true team, not just on one as Kobe’s sidekick.
Maybe if I were there, things would be different. Or maybe I would have been swallowed up.
Either way, it’s been a clear lesson: the Clippers are L.A.’s new trend.
The culture has changed for the Clippers. It's not all highlights; we have the team to actually win the Western Conference this season.
Derrick Rose: 'Patience with My Health'
Derrick Rose is learning that he can be patient as his Bulls find enough success.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Seeing Rajon Rondo walking around here today has been a good reminder. The East is really not all that good.
I can take my time. I don’t need to rush back from injury. The longer my Chicago Bulls hang in the mix, the longer I can push back my return.
I have learned that, as fellow superstar Dirk Nowitizki can also attest to, it’s better to wait and come back at 100 percent than it is to rush back at 70 percent.
The goal is to win the title and the Bulls are doing just fine hanging in there. I hope to be in the flow by playoff time, but you never know.
It’s hard not rushing back out to the game I love, but my overall career has plenty more weight than home-court advantage in this season’s playoffs.
Also, because I am so humble and only write these types of things in personal diaries, it's easy to watch my teammates be successful without me.
Kevin Durant: 'I Can Be Myself, and I'm Enough'
Kevin Durant doesn't need James Harden in Oklahoma City
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Oh, hey diary:
Honestly, I’m pretty happy. It’s been good times. Russell Westbrook is always doing the wildest stuff.
Overall, I guess I’m not sure that I’m really ready to reflect on anything yet.
I look around the room, and my fellow elite stars seem to be struggling. Carmelo is smiling a bit, though he’s limping on that ankle.
The truth is that my Oklahoma City Thunder teammates and I are on cruise control right now. My numbers look good. I've never shot at a higher percentage, and my rebounding and assist numbers are at career-high levels.
If anything, I suppose I’ve learned that it’s nice to make new friends. Kevin Martin has been super nice as a shooter. James Harden was cool, but maybe I’ve learned that it’s more about what Russell and I can create for others.
If there’s anything I’m worried about, I guess it’s that deep fear of never winning a title. This league can move at a swift pace, and I hate that I let last season’s title chances slip away.
There is some pressure there. The title window doesn’t always stay open for long, and I’m actually feeling demands to do it sooner than later. I don’t want to be the Dan Marino of the NBA. I reached the finals early, but what happens if my chances never return?
What happens if the Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs don’t move over this time around?
No, no, no. I’m not heading down that road.
Life is good. Plenty of time. Good, good, good. Russell might take me backpack shopping later.
Dwight Howard: 'Success Isn't Automatic'
Dwight Howard is learning that winning isn't automatic.
Brett Deering/Getty Images
This seminar is hecka fun.
What a year it has been. The right decision was certainly made. Orlando is really struggling this year.
Yes, yes, it’s been a fun season: so many cameras, so much love for these pearly whites.
But it’s not all smiles. I guess this is an opportunity to be real.
This sucks. This sucks so much. I’ve learned that being very good isn’t good enough to win a title. Being as good as I am, even with Kobe Bryant’s MVP-like statistics, isn’t even good enough for the playoffs right now.
Joining the Lakers is not what Shaquille O’Neal made it out to be. It’s not automatic.
My numbers are fine, but something is missing. Playing with 34-year-old Kobe Bryant as the first option is different than playing with Shaq’s younger, second-option Kobe. It’s definitely his show, so learning to share the spotlight is new too.
Playing with so many other superstars doesn’t make up for my lack of hunger; maybe that’s something I still need to learn.
I need to be part of the solution and not be just some incredibly talented role player. If I want to be one of the greats, this is the time to prove it.
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