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USA Basketball president lauds LeBron James’ maturity

Aug 14, 2012, 8:01 AM EST

US forward LeBron James scores during th Getty Images

There was a time in 2006 when it was possible LeBron James was not going to make the 2008 Beijing Olympic team.

Not because of his talent, that was undeniable. He was already one of the game’s elite players. But it was his attitude of entitlement that didn’t sit well with USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski, or his teammates. Adrian Wojnarowski explains at Yahoo Sports.

Before they ever finalized a roster to chase a gold medal in Beijing, USA Basketball officials delivered an unmistakable ultimatum to LeBron James: Unless you grow up, treat people with respect, and commit to taking this seriously, we’ll leave you home for the 2008 Olympic Games. Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski wanted a culture of commitment and had come to believe that James’ momentous talent couldn’t overcome his impulses to instigate and infuriate everyone.

Oh what a difference six years can make.

The maturity that LeBron has shown on the court — both in the finals and helping Team USA win gold by playing an all-around game — is very evident now, Colangelo said.

“LeBron James is a different player and a different person than he was in ’06,” Colangelo said in a private moment after the 107-100 gold medal victory. “And I say that with exclamation marks. He’s matured incredibly as a person, player and leader….

“He’s matured incredibly … ,” Colangelo told Yahoo! Sports. “He never had someone to emulate in his life, and Coach K fit into a great role. He did the rest himself. He’s grown so much. So much.”

Coach K probably helped him mature and taught him lessons. Certainly so have Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley have as well.

But the biggest difference is that in 2006 LeBron was 21, he is now 27. I can say that the person I was at 27 was far more mature and responsible (relatively) to the person I was at 21. We all have things in our past we regret, we all grew up a lot in those years. LeBron just had to do it in a fishbowl.

But it’s clear to everyone he has grown up some.

  1. secdominance - Aug 14, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    I don’t think there was any way LeBron would have left off the 2008 Team. And I really don’t need to read any more LeBron stories from Adrian given his bias against James.

  2. lakerluver - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    Love him or hate him, LeBron has made a remarkable transformation. It’s hard not to notice his humility these days. I still root against the HEAT but I’m a fan of LeBron’s. Not only is he the best player in the world, he also seems to have his head on straight.

    • dls612 - Aug 14, 2012 at 10:16 AM

      You’re slowly but surely becoming a Heat fan! Don’t fight it! Come out the closet!

      • progress2011 - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:36 PM

        Ahahahahaha….dls, I could not have said it better !!! Fakerluver is an LBJ fan because it’s become obvious to him, kobe want’s to be like Mike, but he ain’t….he’s only a dude, jocking another grown mans style !

        ahahahaha

  3. philtration - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Oh boy!
    Let us all give praise to a 27-year-old for acting like a grown man.

    Is this supposed to be some major accomplishment these days?
    You know… there was a time when that was expected of EVERY adult man and you did not have to have a parade for him just because he carried himself one.

    • skids003 - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:36 AM

      Now if we could just get him to properly tip the common people who wait on him at his restaurants he frequants.

      • sellahh - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM

        You, sir, are sure not acting like an adult. One of parts of being adult is refusing jelaousy and you on the other hand are just hating. You might be adult but you sure aren’t mature

      • guyaneserj - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:17 PM

        What amazes me is that in 2006, LBJ was 21/22, now please tell me, who amongst us whilst be 21, didn’t act in some way shape or form “immature”.. I sure as hell did, but life is a great teacher, we hopefully mature with our lif experiences, that’s exactly what LBJ has done!

      • skids003 - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:27 PM

        Hey, he still makes the top ten celebrity bad tippers list. I guess his mere presence is supposed to be enough for us underlings, to bask in his omnipotence.

    • jt1138 - Aug 14, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Tell that to Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Dwight Howard, etc.

    • dls612 - Aug 14, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      How pathetic is your life! Way to put on display what type of person you are!

    • dko83 - Aug 14, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      Agree with Phil, well said. He is supposed to be mature! Like at least 3-5 years ago…

  4. trueballs - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    I think LeBron’s maturity in his game has always impressed me the most. Now, the rest of his life is catching up.
    Sure LBJ’s had bad moments, but when you at look at other Prep-to-Pro guys like Kobe, Dwight, Bynum, J.O’Neal, their games/attitudes are all about me, me, and me. Not to say that they’re not great players, but it’s pretty amazing how unselfish LBJ is. Plus, he never instigates a fights..And then factor in that he probably had the hardest childhood of them all.

    if you don’t think that’s an incredible accomplishment then you’re living in a fantasy world

    • guyaneserj - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      EXACTLY.. trueballs

  5. jimthebuilder27 - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Please tell me, is there a less credible person on the planet than Adrian W when it comes to Lebron James? His loss of objectivity is so apparent, I stopped reading his articles a long time ago!

    • progress2011 - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:42 PM

      jimbob27…soooooooo, I guess this is just a dream, since you stoped reading his articles a year ago. When you wake up, you would have only dreamed, you typed this post…..what a friggin doo-fus !!!

  6. bougin89 - Aug 14, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    It was long known that Lebron had a me first attitude in Cleveland off the court which was surprising because watching him on the court he was exactly the opposite, he was an unselfish team player. Good for him that he seems to have matured from his mistakes, I know if I had signed a 90+ million dollar Nike contract when I was 18 and fresh out of high school I would probably have a considerable maturing process as well, I think anyone would.

    • rtfinch - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      Bryce Harper had no problem adjusting to it. How many 19 year olds making millions dont drink, get offended when you tell them they do drink, and say they would vote for another player over themselves for an all-star game out of respect for the game?

      • guyaneserj - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:22 PM

        BH is da exception, rather than the norm.. I find it inconceivable how supposed grown folks on here, fail 2 understand why the majority of “young” men who have been lavished with praise et al ALL their lives, find it hard 2 adjust…it takes time.. :BJ was just 21/22 six years ago.. come on, who hasn’t behaved inappropriately @ 22? I know I did…

  7. jengibre23 - Aug 14, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    LeBron James. Deny it all you want…. Greatest of all time. The size, strength,ability to get to the basket,his defense, his fastbreak game, his passing ability, and the ability to control the game with the flip of a switch. I get that the 3 point shot is a weakness. But besides the 3 he is unstoppable and this is coming from a 76er fan.

  8. mat9844 - Aug 14, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    I can see where LeBron has matured and gotten even better than he was; he’ll be a player to contend with this year. I’m not a Heat fan; I just enjoy watching really talented players on the court. I’m looking forward to watching Anthony Davis to see how the Olympics helped his game; I can’t wait for Ricky Rubio to return, he’s fun to watch and Kevin Love has improved a lot this year. The matchup I want to see the most is not Heat/Lakers , but Knicks/Nets! This will be a great rivalry in years to come. BTW I’m a die-hard Clippers fan, and can’t wait for us to play the Lakers… Should be a lot of fun this year in the NBA !!!!

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