“I think I would still be at this level no matter if I would’ve came here (Miami) or not,” James said. “Let’s not get it twisted: the four years I was here, it was amazing. I loved everything about it. Loved this franchise, this franchise is top tier, it’s one of the best franchises in the world.
“But as far as my career, my career was going to be my career as far as individually, because I know how much I put into the game and I know how much I strived to be as great as I can be. [But] as far as what I was able to learn here was second to none, that’s for sure.”
James spent four seasons with the Heat, leading the franchise to the NBA Finals in four consecutive seasons. He won his first two titles in his NBA career in Miami playing in a Big 3 that featured Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The decision to join the Heat was a massive one at the time, as James left the team that drafted him – the Cleveland Cavaliers – to team up with Wade and Bosh. There, James was surrounded by a much better core of players, and he showed that he could win a title, something that had eluded him in his career before coming to Miami.
Now, James is a four-time NBA champion, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a lock to be a Hall of Famer when his career is over.
The time in Miami was certainly beneficial, but one just has to look at what James did in the seasons following to understand his point.
After leaving the Heat, James returned to the Cavs, and he made the NBA Finals in four straight seasons, winning one title. He and the Cavs erased a 3-1 series deficit in the 2016 NBA Finals to capture a title.
James made the NBA Finals in eight straight seasons despite playing for two separate franchises. He was the driving force for those teams, winning the NBA Finals MVP award in each of the series that his teams won.
Then James took his talents to the Lakers, and he ended up bringing the franchise a title in the 2019-20 season, winning his fourth NBA Finals MVP in the process.
With the Lakers, James broke the NBA’s all-time scoring record, and he led the team to the Western Conference Finals last season.
James has made the NBA Finals a total of 10 times in his NBA career – five times with Cleveland, four with Miami and once with Los Angeles.
While the Heat franchise helped serve as a stepping stone for James in his career, it’s hard to argue with the Lakers star that as an individual he wouldn’t have found a way to win a title in his career or have the statistical success that has placed him among the greatest players to ever play in the NBA.