LeBron James did a sit-down interview with ESPN’s Chris Broussard, where he addressed a myriad of topics including his killer instinct (that he’s often criticized for), his image (or re-creating one) and his greatest fear.
Here is a few tidbits from the interview that is running in ESPN The Magazine:
When people think about the killer instinct, they always think of MJ and Kobe. Do people underestimate your killer instinct? People say you have it but not like those two. Do you think you have it like they do?
Ahh. I’ll just put it this way, man. There are different ways to hunt. I watch the Discovery Channel all the time, and you look at all these animals in the wild. And they all hunt a different way to feed their families. They all kill a different way. Lions do it strategically — two females will lead, and then everybody else will come in. Hyenas will just go for it. There are different ways to kill, and I don’t think people understand that. Everybody wants everybody to kill the same way. Everybody wants everybody to kill like MJ or kill like Kobe. Magic didn’t kill the way they killed. Does that mean he didn’t have a killer instinct? Kareem didn’t either. But does that mean Kareem didn’t have a killer instinct? The same with Bird. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a killer instinct. Tim Duncan don’t kill like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, but I’ve played against Tim Duncan twice in the Finals and I know for sure he’s got a killer instinct. So there are different ways to kill. MJ had a killer instinct for sure. But if people really think that MJ didn’t talk to nobody and didn’t smile on the court, they’re crazy. They’re crazy. I’ve seen him. I was watching a clip the other day of him blocking Charles Barkley, and they’re laughing about the play — on the floor. Right now, if I block Kevin Durant on the floor, or I block Carmelo Anthony and we laugh about it? Ahh, I’m going to get killed [laughing]. I’m telling you. But there are different ways of killing.
Do you think you’ll change people’s minds about that?
I hope. I hope. I hope people will see that there are different ways of winning. And I win by … I don’t want to say doing it my way. I am doing it my way but not in a selfish way. I want to win by having fun and having a brotherhood around me where we all have the same goals — and that’s just going out and winning, man. When I’m having fun, I’m loving the game, and that’s what brings joy to me. [Leans back and smiles] Every now and then my look comes out, though — like Game 6 in Boston . People say, Why don’t he do that all the time? [laughs] Man, I don’t even … first of all, I have no idea why that look even happened. Somebody took a great photo. The camera was right on time, and he happened to get me when I was a little bit tired and I looked up. Bam! Now, it’s The Look [laughs]. It’s the LeBron Look. The LeBron Face[laughs]. It’s cool, though. It’s cool. Don’t think for one second, though, that I’m not zeroed in on what I need to get done to kill my prey.
Imagewise, do you feel you’ve gotten back to where you were before 2010? Or maybe even improved your image? Not in Akron but across the country?
I’d say I’ve seen people’s perception change from who they thought I was in 2010 to who I really am now. I’ve changed personally. But things have changed. I believe time heals all, and the way I’ve reshaped my life and the way I’ve played the game in these last few years has helped my image. I wasn’t saying, This is how we’re going to do it. This is the way we’re going to get LeBron’s image back. It was just like, This is how I want to live. This is how I want to play basketball, and it kind of just did it on its own.
I’ve heard you say you’ve become a better person, a better father, a better teammate and all that. I mean, it’s not like you were a bad guy before.
I ain’t never been a bad guy. I think for everyone, when you run into mistakes, it’s how you handle those mistakes. It’s how you come back from them. I made a comment after we lost to Dallas about people going back to their regular lives. After they’re done criticizing LeBron, they still have to go back to their struggles. And I’ve learned from that. I feel like that was a mistake. That wasn’t who I am. I don’t even know where that came from. Being an underprivileged kid growing up and now having a huge foundation that helps underprivileged kids and underprivileged families, that was very insensitive to say that.
So I’ve grown from that. On the court, I’ve grown from not being there like I should have been there for my team in that Dallas series. So I think that year, and the way the press was handling me, and all of a sudden I got a villain hat and all that, it changed me for the wrong. And after that season, I was like, Man, that ain’t me. I ain’t about that life [laughs hard]. Get back to being LeBron. That’s on and off the court.
Do you ever battle a fear of failure?
That’s one of my biggest obstacles. I’m afraid of failure. I want to succeed so bad that I become afraid of failing.
How do you deal with it — how do you overcome it?
Just win [laughs]. Keep winning and I don’t have to worry about it. Keep winning.
It’s not everyday when you get to really see inside the four-time MVP, but the fact that he was able to reflect on some of the most difficult moments of his career really says something about how far he’s come. You can check out the entire interview here.