In 2011, LeBron James was still in pursuit of his first NBA Championship. James and the Miami Heat advanced to the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Heat were ultimately defeated by the Mavs, with Dirk Nowitzki receiving Finals MVP honors. After the crushing defeat James, his wife Savannah, his teammate and friend Dwyane Wade, and his wife Gabrielle Union decided to take a vacation in the Bahamas.
During a recent sit down with Showtime’s Rachel Nichols recalled how hard James took the loss.
LeBron went on to win two championships during his tenure with the Heat. He later returned to Cleveland brought home the franchise’s first ever title, and won a ring with the Lakers in 2020.
But Wade’s memories from the 2011 offseason potentially offer some insight into LeBron’s mindset as he faced the pressure of failing to secure his first championship.
According to Wade, LeBron looked down at a swimming pool from a balcony right after arriving at the hotel.
Nichols asked Wade if James was aware of the risk jumping presented. An injury from the jump would have certainly impacted James’ career.
“He said how deep do you think that is? [I said] I don’t know, eight or nine feet? He said let me see. [He] took his stuff off, jumped in the pool from the balcony. I promise you … This dude is crazy,” Wade said.
But Wade mentioned that he did not believe James was thinking about the risk of injury at the time. Perhaps James was simply using the leap as a way to escape from basketball for a brief moment.
James has previously said that vacation served as a turning point for him.
LeBron has previously recalled that vacation as a turning point in his career. He said on the first day of the trip, Wade and Union had candid conversations about LeBron’s identity and public persona as a villain (via ESPN):
“They were just like, ‘Listen, you need to get back to who you are. We understand the portrayal of what they want you to become right now. That’s not you,” James recalled when he spoke about a conversation with Wade and Union.
“You didn’t get to this point in your career by playing the game with the black hat and with that mentality of it’s me against the world. You need to get back to that Magic Johnson feeling, mixed with some other guys — that Penny Hardaway flair, but still that determination of MJ [Michael Jordan]. You need to get back to that because that’s just who you are. You are who you are. You’re no one else. Don’t try to be no one else.'”
After the leap and the conversation, James apparently was able to unwind for the remainder of the vacation.
James, now in his 20th season in the NBA, is the league’s all-time leading scorer.
He is hoping to win the 5th title of his career. But first, James and the Lakers will have to get past the Memphis Grizzlies.
Los Angeles currently leads its first-round series against Memphis 3-2. Game 6 tips off at 10:30 p.m. EST. If the Grizzlies win, they will force a Game 7, which would take place on Sunday.