COMMENTARY | Oftentimes, even the "greatest" in sports need inspiration from something or someone familiar with succeeding against all odds. LeBron James and the Miami Heat are no exceptions.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has an insatiable love for boxing, but he is fond of the NBA, particularly of championship teams like Miami and players like the Big Three.
While the Heat don't typically open their doors at training camp to outsiders, when someone has been at the top of his game for 17 years and running, exceptions are made and even sought after, it seems.
Mayweather's motivational speech was embraced by players over the weekend and, arguably, is a savvy example of thinking outside the box.
"Be like Floyd" is the new "Be like Mike"
Many refer to the 5-foot-8-inch boxing champion as the "bad boy" of the sport. It's a fair handle, given the controversial nature of the fighter who has a penchant for driving headlines and flaunting his love for money, bling and fancy cars. They don't call him "Money" for nothing.
Over the span of a decade or so, Mayweather had his share of run-ins with law enforcement over violence-related offenses, according to a USA Today report. And like he does against adversaries in the ring; he managed to bob and weave formal charges and jail sentences for a time.
However, in June he entered a guilty plea and accepted a misdemeanor deal with prosecutors stemming from an alleged violent incident with his former girlfriend, the mother of his children. He was soon labeled a "woman-beater" on social media and by at least one opponent, who probably wish he hadn't talked smack.
Mayweather was sentenced to 90 days in a Clark County maximum security prison, but he was released just after 60 days for "good behavior."
During his stint in prison, he claims it made him a better person on the inside. Moreover, Floyd realized that, like it or not, he's a role model, not only to his kids but also to others who enjoy the sport of boxing.
His presence at the Heat's training camp was not meant to be a photo-op session with the boxing champion. Instead, Mayweather pulled a chapter right out Michael Jordan's playbook. Back in the day, the former Chicago Bulls player represented the slogan "Be like Mike."
Obviously, there is only one MJ, but the larger message was for others to emulate what he did, not only on the court but also off the court.
Jordan is known for not only winning but also carrying himself with respect and grace off the court. Sure, he was the game's biggest trash-talker, but he was largely spared the tabloid scandals and legal run-ins athletes become mired in.
Arguably, Mayweather's out-of-ring antics don't make for an appropriate template. However, the boxer emphasized the importance of "never giving up."
The Miami Heat and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.: From one champ to another
According to the World Boxing Association via Statistics Brain, Mayweather's boxing record is 45-0-0 (26 KOs). In the NBA, this would be an impressive record, but would only represent just over half of the scheduled regular season games. However, Floyd's record above represents 17 years of history in the ring as a professional.
LeBron James said he was honored by Mayweather's presence and acknowledged the boxer's longevity and unblemished record over a long span of time.
Dwyane Wade said only a handful of others have been privy to the Heat's closed-door training sessions over his 11 years with the franchise. He too understands the gravity of Floyd's presence and the words of inspiration Mayweather shared before leaving the facility.
Perhaps, the presence of Jordan would have had a more profound effect, especially to those, like James, who is undoubtedly eying MJ's milestones.
However, at times, it is wise to think outside of the box to compel players to remove blinders and see how other champions are getting it done. Oftentimes, there's a parallel in the drivers behind achieving the ultimate goal.
Championships often cause complacency
Wade said it well of the impact Mayweather's visit had on him.
''If you got up today and you were a little tired, you'd walk in and see the champ and work a little harder,'' acknowledged the three-time NBA champion.
Here, D-Wade is talking about avoiding the behavior that often plagues athletes, rendering them one-trick-ponies: complacency.
The conventional wisdom suggests that after a team or athlete wins a championship, the drive is to chase another with the same intensity. Instead, as Wade points out, many simply get "tired."
However, true champions play through fatigue and pain with their eyes on the prize. It doesn't always produce the desired result, but it's the hallmark of a true champion.
At 36, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is the epitome of resilience and it appears some things - just like wine - get better with age.
Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter and avid follower of the NBA, NFL, NCAA, PGA and tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins developments.
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