As someone who's been to the NBA Finals 10 times, LeBron James knows exactly what it takes to win a championship ring. He's also learned not to celebrate or get overly excited until the job is done. James preached that very message after the Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals, and he carried that same focus into Game 1 of the Finals against the Miami Heat Wednesday night.
With his Lakers leading the Heat by nearly 30 in the second half of Game 1 after overcoming an early double-digit deficit, James noticed some of his teammates being overly jovial on the sideline, and quickly reminded them to stay locked in and focused on the task. From Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
Davis, Howard and some players on the Lakers' bench began making the glasses gesture again as they walked to their bench. James didn't let this celebratory occurrence slide this time.
"Hey, hey! Stop it! Stay locked in!" he shouted at his teammates before entering the huddle. "This s--- ain't over, man."
The Lakers easily finished their mission in Game 1. Before the final buzzer sounded, James walked over to each of his teammates and congratulated them on striking first, but also reminding them that they need three more wins... Despite the fact the Lakers dominated for much of the game, James clearly wasn't pleased with some of their horseplay.
James brings a matured poise to the Finals, and his approach is something he has built over the years. When asked why he felt the need to address his teammates about their sideline antics during the game, James pointed to his own experience, specifically Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals when he was a member of the Heat, and they lost to the Dallas Mavericks.
"The best teacher in life is experience," James responded. "I've experienced moments in my career where you have all the momentum in the world and you felt like you had the game under control, and one play here or one play there could change the course of a series or change the course of a game.
"One in particular that always rings home for me is Game 2 of the 2011 Finals in Miami vs. Dallas. [Dwyane Wade] hits a 3 right by their bench. I believe it put us up either 13 or 17. From that moment on, Dallas went on a hell of a run and finished it off with a Dirk Nowitzki left-hand layup to steal that game. That s--- burns me to this day. I always talk about the best teacher in life is experience, and I've experienced a lot. That's what prompts me to be who I am today, is being able to have those experiences."
In addition to all the tangible things that he brings to the court, James has also been praised for being an excellent leader over the course of his career, and this is exactly what leadership looks like. James knows that the Lakers will have an entire offseason to celebrate if they are ultimately able to seal the deal, but until then he's going to keep his teammates focused on the ultimate goal.