Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lebron James' Reading List to Winning the NBA Finals

I once wondered about LeBron James reading list after I saw him reading The Hunger Games right after his historic performance against the Celtics in Game 6. LeBron James reading a book? Really? I always admire a person who reads a book. But an NBA Superstar like LeBron? Hmmm (stroking my imaginary beard).

That’s something very rare in the NBA or any other sports for that matter, at least to my very limited knowledge. I read about Chris Bosh reading a book in the locker room, Manny Pacquiao reading the Bible, which we all know about, or Timothy Bradley reading a Manny Pacquiao biography while preparing to fight him, which only a few of us know about. But that’s another story for another day.

I know that LeBron reads a lot – mostly articles about himself. He said so in an interview. He devoured them last year and those things written about him gnawed like maggots inside him, because those articles were written by people who criticized and magnified his poor performance, his “chokeness” in the fourth quarter against the Mavs in the Finals. He couldn’t just ignore them. They got into him. He paid the price.

But he learned one very crucial thing from that experience: reading affects his game. Really affects him a lot. And if that’s so, then let it affect him in a good way. James stopped watching TV, stopped tweeting (remember his 3am tweet during last year’s Finals?), and got off the internet. Now all he wanted is a reading list. So he got this:

    1. The Fighter's Mind (Sam Sheridan)
    2.Shogun (James Clavell)
    3. The Post-American World (Fareed Zakaria)
    4. West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life (Jerry West)
    5. The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)
    6. The Hunger Games trilogy (Suzanne Collins)
    7. Decoded (Jay-Z)

A pretty good list. Only read two of them: The Tipping Point and The Hunger Games trilogy. James read them, shut off all the noise, just let himself get transported to the charmed, tormented life of Jerry West, the post-apocalyptic, sprawling land of Panem and the gripping story of Katniss Everdeen.

"It just slows my mind down,” James says. “It gives me another outlet. Throughout the playoffs, all you think about is basketball. All you want to do is play basketball. But at the same time it can become a lot. It can [get] to a point where it's overloading to the mind, and you think about it too much. It's hard to get away from it because you're playing every other day, you talk about it every single day, you prepare every single day.
"So the reading has given me an opportunity to, just for those couple hours of the day or those 20 minutes, 25 minutes before the game, an opportunity just to read and think about something else and get a sense of what else is going on besides the game of basketball. It's made me comfortable. I'm not saying it's the trick. It's just something that I decided to do at the beginning of the postseason, and it's worked for me."

We witness the results – pretty historic and pure fun to watch, ain’t it? He won the Finals MVP Award, won his very first Championship ring. He can now call himself an NBA Champion.


  1. I don't keep up with basketball much, but I like to read stuff about people reading as some kind of meditation. Its great it worked for him. Even now, its difficult to focus on reading or get off the internet. I'm trying to increase my reading time on actual ink and paper, but there's also a lot of great stories on the net now. I just noticed I got more productive time for schoolwork now that I avoid Facebook.

    1. I spend most of my time online - writing articles for other peoples websites and blogs, reading articles, tweets, watching NBA highlights on YouTube, sometimes blogging here, etc... I average 1-2 hours reading offline my frighteningly growing reading list. I try to avoid Facebook, too.