LeBron Vows to Be Better Next Season, Says He's 'Obsessed with Success'
His 31.59 player efficiency rating ranks as the seventh-best mark in NBA history. He shattered his previous career bests in field-goal (56.5 percent) and three-point (40.6) shooting. He also posted a career high in rebounds (8.0 per game), almost set another in assists (7.3) and still finished with the league's fourth-highest scoring average (26.8).
His efforts were anything but ignored. For the fourth time in the last five years he was named the regular-season MVP, and for the second-straight season he added to his hardware collection in the postseason, taking home another championship ring and another Finals MVP award.
But according to the man dubbed "King," he's yet to show his strongest hand.
"I'm going to come back a better player, because I owe it to my teammates," he said according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "I'm obsessed with success."
Perhaps that obsession is what drove him to Miami after he spent his first seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and perhaps that could fuel another exit next summer, when Miami's talented trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all opt out of their current contracts.
While the prospect of another free-agent frenzy after next season is already driving basketball conversations, James said he'll focus on that decision only when he has to. For now, his hoops thoughts don't extend beyond the 2013-14 campaign.
This year coming, which will be here soon...our focus is on how we're going to get better. And how we're going to prepare to be better with all these other teams getting better, to be able to keep that trophy here.
Part of the process of the Heat getting better might involve finding more help for James. His trusted duo of Wade and Bosh became very untrustworthy down the stretch, with Wade hampered by a nagging knee injury, and Bosh searching for his shooting stroke throughout the playoff run.
In any case, James isn't asking Miami's front office for any additional support. There's something appealing to him about carrying a team on his shoulders:
My mindset is at a point where there is no relief. I love the burden. I love what I have to do for this team to win. If it happens and we get someone who relieves something from me as far as a big or a wing guy or something, then it'd be good for our team. But I'm not going up to those guys or approaching this summer saying "I need help." I'm coming back saying if we come back with this roster, we're going to compete for a championship.
And that isn't just his way of playing up to the Miami fanbase for what could be his final season in Miami. That stems from the fact that the Heat have made three finals trips in James' three seasons with the team, and they have never posted a regular-season winning percentage under .697 since he arrived.
That's why he made the decision he did. He faced unrelenting scrutiny for joining forces with Wade and Bosh in Miami, and he's still facing some of the ill effects of that move to this day.
While those championship rings have provided at least a degree of validation, James still isn't certain that they'll be enough to keep him around. He admitted that the idea of staying with Wade and Co. beyond next season is intriguing, but said he can't predict the future:
This is what we came here for, so that would be the ultimate. But you can never...I don't know, life changes, things happen, and we have to be prepared for that. But this is what we all want to be here for, that's to be able to compete for a championship each and every year. And if we can do that, then it'd be awesome.
What's even more awesome, though, is the thought of witnessing a James performance that actually trumps his latest masterpiece.
The bar has been set so incredibly high, but clearing it is a possibility that his track record forces us all to consider.
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