How Pat Riley’s Militaristic Approach Inspired LeBron James

LeBron James
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavilers goes up for the dunk against the New York Knicks on February 22, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBAE/Getty Images
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

“Cleveland is part of the mainstream of the NBA. In Miami, there is one man in charge and that is Pat Riley and everyone falls into line from there. It’s very simplified for you. There is one way to do things, his way,” retired NBA star Zydrunas Ilgauskas said of his time with the Heat. To that point, back in 2010, Ilgauskas and his former teammate LeBron James’ first week at Heat training camp was spent on a military base in Pensacola, Florida. For the first few days, neither player even took a shot; it was all drills. Writes ESPN senior writer Brian Windhorst: “For each full workout during the season, everyone wore knee pads and mouthguards. It was full contact. If you were caught grabbing your shorts out of fatigue, you were told to stand up. Needless to say, it set a tone.”

Read the full story about James’ attempt to bring that work ethic to Cleveland, here.


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