After his MVP speech on Sunday, LeBron James fielded questions from reporters and explained his preparation for this season, which allowed him to shoot a career-high percentage from three-point range.
Before 2012-13, James had a career three-point percentage of .331. This season, James was 103 of 254 from three-point range with a shooting percentage of .406. Increased efficiency overall — James shot a staggering .565 from the field — was main reason for James’ runaway vote tally for MVP but his three-point accuracy was the most surprising change in his game.
Before this season, the general scouting report on James was to play off him defensively and bait him into shooting long jumpers.
James figured improving from the outside “could make me even more dynamic where guys couldn’t just lay off of me and dare me to shoot.”
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With what little off time he had last summer, James put himself through grueling workout sessions in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. To simulate game-time pressure, James penalized himself for missing three-pointers with wind sprints.
“I stayed in the gym twice a day, shooting threes, putting myself in pressure situations where if I don’t make it I’ve got to run each and every time,” James said, “and I became more comfortable.”
James said the Heat’s offseason acquisition of Ray Allen also improved his outside touch. After most practices and before games, Allen and James competed in three-point shooting contests. The penalty for losing was push-ups.
“Being around [Allen] every day and competing with him every day — as a competitor you hate losing, even though he’s the greatest three-point shooter of all time in the regular season and playoff history. I hate losing, so to compete with him has helped me out a lot as well,” James said.
Among the more memorable interview clips of the video montage presented to James by the Heat during the MVP announcement were poignant words from Dwyane Wade and a joke from Mike Miller.
Said Wade, who was in James’ draft class in 2003 along with Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony: “2003 sitting in Chicago, in a room full of All-NBA players, and I didn’t know I was sitting next to a guy who could win four MVPs in five years. We’ve been friends since Day One … but being around him daily has been special to see. Every time you step onto the court, you prove that you deserve this award. Continue to lead this team.”
Miller’s video tribute added some humor to the day: “What I’m most proud of, brother, is that between the two of us, we now got four MVPs. It means we’ve been working hard. Congratulations and keep doing it.”
James received 120 of the 121 possible MVP votes. Sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States vote along with one vote given to fans and tabulated by NBA.com.
“It was probably a writer out of New York who didn’t give me that vote,” James said. “We know the history between the Heat and the Knicks, so I get it.”
There has never been a unanimous vote for the NBA’s MVP. Shaquille O’Neal (1999-2000) is the only other player to receive all but one vote.