Respect and fear. The two defining terms for greatness in the NBA. How many times have you heard the phrase, “Michael Jordan put fear in his opponents”? Even though the greatest player of his generation and arguably of all time, LeBron James does not get that same controversy. Moreover, there have been times when even former teammates of his went against the notion of players fearing LeBron. But, one of the key role players on those historic Miami Heat teams believes his call out of James was valid, albeit with the wrong words.
Mario Chalmers, who had previously claimed that players did not fear the 4x NBA Champion, was ready to explain what he meant. “When I said it, right, I was basically saying that the player that we went against didn’t fear Bron like the Danny Grangers, the Luol Dengs, the Jimmy Butlers. The people that we were seeing in the playoffs, they didn’t fear LeBron.”
However, he does believe the perception around the 4x NBA MVP had a lot to do with it. “Because the media was Killing Bron that year he came to Miami…I was close as hell to Bron. So, when he’s going to work out, he’s calling me like, ‘Rio, come on. let’s go work out.’”
During those workouts, Chalmers came to see that the conversation made LeBron try out some new things to alter his approach and appease the haters. As a result, his improved arsenal led to the next season’s dominant run as teams were unable to see how much he had altered his approach.
Then, he would correct his earlier stance after former teammate Mike Miller challenged him with, “I don’t care what anyone says, all the motherf***ers you named were uncomfortable going into Game 1 or going into Game 2. They’re uncomfortable guarding that s**t.”
Those workouts brought a change in James and for Mario changed the narrative. “We can all agree from that Dallas series to that next year, Bron was a whole different animal.” That is when the fear set in. But, the point guard wasn’t done yet.
Instead, he would go on to clear the air about his earlier comments regarding the Los Angeles Lakers superstar.