Bill Simmons has a great article on Grantland about Dirk Nowitski. Along the way he gives a theory about what happened to LeBron James
Remember when Wade tore into LeBron with three-plus minutes remaining in Game 3? When he yelled at him for eight solid seconds? When there was genuine anger in his eyes? When he did it right on the court, right in front of the other players, right in front of 20,000 fans and 10 million TV viewers?
LeBron was never the same after that.
When was the last time anyone ever really yelled at LeBron James? You’d have to go back to high school, right? He just spent the past 10 years being coddled by everyone (teammates, coaches, agents, entourage members, yes-men, general managers, owners, media members, etc.). Imagine he was a little kid (which really, he might be to some degree), and imagine you were his father and didn’t believe in yelling at your kids. Now, imagine your kid screwed up in his second-grade play and, for whatever reason, you broke character, snapped, and berated him for eight seconds in front of everyone. How would he handle that? Poorly, right? He’d pretend it didn’t affect him, but the more he thought about it, it would gnaw away at him (especially once his buddies said, "I can’t believe your dad yelled at you like that").
Could that have been what happened to LeBron? Did those eight seconds shake his confidence beyond repair? Did he resent Wade for embarrassing him? Did he think to himself, "Fine, you want to act like this is your team, then YOU win this title?" I believe every basketball champion needs a pecking order of sorts; that’s just what the history of the league told us. Miami tried to cheat this concept by putting two of the league’s best three players on the same team. It worked for 8Â½ months; LeBron and Wade ran the team together and deferred to one another depending on the moment. Then the Finals rolled around, Wade kicked it up another gear, LeBron didn’t do the same, Wade called him out â€¦ and the team was NEVER the same. These are the facts.