LeBron James is known as one of the most dominant players in NBA history. There are a few factors that often lead players to their ultimate decline, such as age. Despite being almost 39 years old and the second-oldest player in the league, James still performs in prime form. This shows the level of dedication and determination that drives the 4x NBA Champion to be great. And it doesn’t seem like it’ll come to an end any time soon.
James entered the league in 2003 along with two of his future teammates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The three of them were drafted within the first five slots with James being the top pick. They were all dominant in their aspects, however, Wade was the first to touch championship gold and experience high levels of success. While James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to several deep playoff runs, he felt that they were too stagnant.
Eventually, the Miami Heat recruited LeBron James to play alongside his good friend. Bosh was also added to the roster which ultimately made the Heat a major threat. This was one of the scariest lineups since the Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan era. The Heat would end up dominating the league with LeBron winning his third and fourth MVPs as well as his first set of titles. However, their first season together had a tragic end.
Dwyane Wade admitted JJ Barea gave LeBron James and the Heat problems during the 2011 NBA Finals
The Miami Heat were coming off a great regular season run finishing second in the Eastern Conference. They were topped by the Bulls at the time but the Heat defeated them in the playoffs by winning the Conference Finals 4-1 in the series. However, it was during the NBA Finals that things got interesting. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were expected to win their first ring together. But that was until JJ Barea emerged on behalf of Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.
Wase revealed what went down before the Heat lost to the Mavericks. He told Shannon Sharpe, “We got outplayed and outcoached. Like obviously, LeBron struggled. Players struggle. And what sucked about it is because of everything that was talked about. At the end of the day, me as a leader, Spo as a head coach, we’ve got to do a better job to make sure that he’s not struggling. But that little JJ Barea, nobody gives him credit. JJ Barea was the one who changed [everything]. We didn’t have no answer for him. And so, we were more talented but they were a better team.”
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JJ Barea did not play big minutes for the Mavericks. However, when he stepped on the court, he always made sure he was the best version of himself. Barea never had an All-Star appearance but his only NBA accolade was from winning the 2011 Championship. However, he had immense success while playing for Puerto Rico’s National Team, earning seven gold medals at the International stages.