Rich Paul claps back at narrative that LeBron James needed Miami Heat'
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Rich Paul, the agent for Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and founder of Klutch Sports Group, is not a fan of the narrative that James needed the Miami Heat.

Paul and James are close friends, and Paul spoke about the narrative on Gil’s Arena with former NBA player Gilbert Arenas.

“The narrative of – ‘OK, he went to Miami, they made him this way,’” Paul said. “What? Now, what did help was infrastructure, consistency, professionalism – which LeBron’s always had – that’s no question about that. But I’m saying overall, from a culture perspective, right?”

James left the Cleveland Cavaliers – the team that drafted him in the 2003 NBA Draft – to join the Miami Heat in free agency ahead of the 2010-11 season.

In Miami, he teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a Big 3, but Paul doesn’t believe it was just James that was needing someone to team up with.

“To create this narrative of, he needed somebody and they – you know?” Paul said. “No, it’s a shared need. ‘Because if I don’t go there, what are you talking about?’”

The Heat went on to make four straight NBA Finals appearances with James on the roster, winning two titles in the process. They were the first two titles of James’ NBA career, and his time with Miami started an eight-season run where he led his squad to the NBA Finals in each season.

Paul shared that people in the Heat organization are still appreciative of what James did for the franchise.

“If you ask anybody in the Heat organization – at least me did – they’ll tell you how much they appreciate it and still appreciate it,” Paul continued. “You get what I’m saying? But the narrative, from the media perspective, was something totally different.”

There’s no doubt that Miami is grateful for the titles that James helped the franchise win, and the team actually hasn’t won a title since he left, despite appearing in the Finals two times.

Paul went on to explain how the consistency in the Heat organization from Pat Riley down was important for James wanting to go there and succeeding.

“Having the consistency – you know Pat’s been there forever,” Paul said. “Andy Elisburg, who is unbelievable, been there forever. Adam Simon, been there. Spo (Erik Spoelstra) been there, came through the ranks. That was extremely valuable to a guy like L.J. coming there because they want to win. They want to win. And they want to win the right way. But it’s not like he had to be babysat or handheld. I’m just like, ‘Let’s just fix the narrative.’ I’m not discrediting.”

Since leaving the Heat, James has shown that he can win in various places, bringing a title back to the Cavaliers in the 2015-16 season before winning with the Lakers in the 2019-20 campaign.

He’s a four-time NBA champion and has succeeded everywhere that he’s been in his NBA career.

Miami was certainly an important stepping stone for James, but it seems like Paul doesn’t want to have that take away from the greatness of the NBA’s all-time leading scorer either.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.