NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez watched LeBron James celebrate his first NBA championship on Thursday evening, hoisting the trophy for his victorious Miami Heat, and couldn't help but think of his own date with success.
That would have been the evening of Nov. 4, 2009, when A-Rod clustered with his teammates at the center of Yankee Stadium and joyously partied the night away after scoring the World Series ring he'd waited so long for.
"I know exactly how he felt, and I was very happy for him," Rodriguez said. "I know he's going to take a deep breath now and really enjoy the rest of his career. We probably haven't seen the best of him, and I think we will now."
Rodriguez has followed the Heat closely and tries to make it to a few games during the baseball offseason, but he especially sees parallels between himself and James, who has been a popular target after leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for a huge contract in Miami.
"Playing the villain is never fun, and it's tiring," Rodriguez said. "It's definitely not exciting. It's not all it's built up to be. I think for me, everything changed in '09 and I really had a chance to just enjoy the game again; more so now than ever."
Rodriguez added that even when he struggles, he has found a way to enjoy the game, and he hopes that has impacted his public perception since '09.
"By any means that doesn't mean I'm going to be casting the lead roles in every Tom Hanks movie," Rodriguez said, "but I think I've graduated from being the monster in every film."