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LeBron Getting Faster?


Dan LeBatard played a post-game interview piece by a Toronto Raptor that started with the concept that LeBron was a little quicker than he had been in the past. LeBatard then wondered, aloud, whether the compliment was really a (passive aggressive) suggestion that steroids were in play. It is an honest question that has to be asked, but there is another explanation for his perceived quickness improvement.

LeBron has shown that he is an intuitive learner of the first degree. He had childhood coaching and high school coaching. From my personal experience, those coaches taught the average kid on the team and let LeBron alone because his physical talent was so much advanced from everyone else that he did not have to have great mechanics. The average kids got drilled on the mechanics, but LeBron did not appear to have been exposed to them as others his age might have been had he not been so talented. Skipping college meant that his footwork when he came to the NBA left him flatfooted against those he faced.

His footwork kept him back his first 4 or so years. In the one early playoff with Boston, near the end of the game there is a jump ball and Paul Pierce out steps him on the circle to get the ball and seal the game. LeBron had size on Pierce, but did not even see the need for the move – most likely because he had never been shown it. Pierce schooled him that night.

LeBron had to learn all of his footstep correction by playing at the highest level. I think Olajuwon taught him offensive foot work one summer, but he has, apparently, learned his defensive footwork through his personal failures. (I always thought he should have hooked up with Rasheed Wallace for work on his defensive footwork.) The Championship won by Dallas had two games ended by a Nowitzki drive and with LeBron never seeing or moving from his weak side position until it was too late to step right. His feet (and head) were wrong and he never made a move to help.

Here’s the thing. LeBron is faster now because he doesn’t make the missteps he used to make. He has intuitively learned as he was exposed to the footwork of the best in the world and he now has a big book of knowledge. He also doesn’t have to think, though, about what he is doing, so he avoids the “lag” that thinking can create. When you are really balling you don’t want to be thinking, just doing. LeBron may get even faster over the next couple of years.

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