LeBron and Wade’s post-Game 6 press conference [video]

I had to laugh when LeBron said that he works hard on his game in the offseason because I sure can’t see the results on the court. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are notorious for going away in the offseason and coming back with a new killer move in their offensive arsenal — what move has LeBron developed over the last eight years? How is his game significantly different than when he entered the league at age 18? To me, this is his biggest issue as a player.

Anyway, the relationship between these Wade and LeBron has been one of the more interesting stories this season. Bill Simmons went so far as to suggest that the duo’s interaction towards the end of Game 3 may have sent LeBron into a tailspin.

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?”

Wade was angry that LeBron threw the ball to Chalmers in the corner and after Chalmers eventually turned the ball over, Wade let LeBron hear about it. This is not how most of us would react if a friend lit into us, but LeBron’s expression was telling. He was frustrated with the situation and didn’t seem like he appreciated getting chewed out by Wade in the middle of the game.

Only he knows how much that exchange affected his game.

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