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LeBron James: Heat Star Shows Maturity Admitting Larry Bird was Right About Kobe

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IFebruary 9, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 19:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is guarded by Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game  at American Airlines Arena on January 19, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

LeBron James has matured as a basketball player this year after a tumultuous first season with the Miami Heat in 2010-11. His thoughts regarding Larry Bird's comments on him and Kobe Bryant proves that James won't be distracted by non-important issues.

Bird recently did an interview with Grantland's Bill Simmons in which several topics were discussed. One of them was about Kobe and LeBron and who the Boston Celtics legend would prefer to play with.

"Well, probably Kobe, because of the fact that ... well, of course he wouldn't have been shooting as much as he does now ... but his desire to win, his dedication, to always get better, uh, and he's just, he's just tough," Bird said. "He's just a tough cat.

"But, if you want to have fun, like I did with Bill Walton, play with LeBron. It would have probably been more fun to play with LeBron, but if you want to win and win and win, it's Kobe. Not that LeBron's not a winner, just that [Kobe's] mindset is to go into every practice, every game, to get better."

When James was asked about Bird's comments following the Heat's loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, he said, "It's simple, Kobe has five rings and I have none."

Watch James' full comments below at the 2:50 mark.

It's clear James is not going to let this story become a distraction, and that he's now mentally tough enough to block out these types of things that the media generally blows out of proportion.

It's obvious that, if you want to win, you would play with Kobe. These comments from Bird were really not a surprise at all.

That being said, James is all about winning right now, and this incredible focus on becoming a champion is fantastic for him. He's no longer trying to prove people wrong and be someone he's not. He's not playing angry any more, he's just letting his natural and extraordinary talent take over.

James has become a mature basketball player and is playing the game the right way. James will win multiple championships before he retires, but the Heat star's new maturity leads us to believe those titles could come sooner, rather than later.

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