Miami Heat superstar Lebron James went through the “initiation rites” like every other great athletes do – experience a string of failures along the way in their careers before reaching success.
James was a 22-year-old youngster when he played in his first-ever NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007 .
The Cavs were an up-and-coming and exciting team to watch, all because James was the centerpiece of an offense that thrives on alley-oop dunks and fast-paced drives to the basket.
But against a veteran-laden, championship-toughened team like the San Antonio Spurs, James’ “initiation rites” process has just begun.
First, James’ attack-the-basket-first mode was stymied by the Spurs’ defense, which limited him to just shooting jumpers.
Since the high-flying NBA superstar didn’t shoot accurately back then from the perimeter, the Cavs got swept by the Spurs in the process, 0-4 in the Finals.
James watched as San Antonio celebrated at Cleveland’s home floor, a sight he will never forget.
Said James just before the start of the 2013 NBA Finals:
“I have something in me that they took in ’07. Beat us on our home floor. Celebrated on our home floor,” James said. “I won’t forget that. You shouldn’t as a competitor. You should never forget that.”
Three seasons after the Cavs’ 0-4 Finals loss to the Spurs, James remained without an NBA title as his next three Playoffs experience ended in disappointment.
When he finally moved on to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form the NBA’s newest “Big Three” in Miami in 2011, the Heat managed to reach the Finals, but the Dallas Mavericks celebrated at James and Co’s expense via a 4-2 championship series win.
In all these frustrations, James seemed the odd man out, bashed by some quarters as “Le-choke” for his inability to hit the big shots unlike NBA legends Michael Jordan and Larry Bird who made the big plays down the stretch during their storied careers.
But over the last two seasons, we see a different Lebron James.
We see the 6’8” Miami forward leading the fastbreak as always, but we also see a Lebron James, who has become deadly from the outside, shooting more confidently, swishing his jump shots and playing hard nose defense on the other end.
The result was clear: the Miami Heat are the NBA’s newest back-to-back champions, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in last season’s Finals, before bundling out the Spurs this season.
As I think of James’ rise to championship greatness, we can find something in common with the back-to-back NBA Finals MVP.
From the time he was selected as the no. 1 overall pick by the Cavs in 2003, till the 2011 NBA Finals, James’ season always ended in disappointment.
Yet, those disappointment year after year served him in good stead. For they eventually became James’ stepping stone to reaching new heights.
You may be disappointed with your situation today. You might even be at the point of giving up, ready to throw the towel.
But no matter what you are going through today or will ever go through in life, your “down” moment has a reason. And God can and will use that to further advance His purpose and plans for your life.
As Romans 8:28 (Living Translation) says, 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
God can use your frustration and your weakness and turn it into victory when we learn to trust Him even in our most difficult moment.
When you have God on your side, you can be assured of finishing strong.
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