LeBron keeps his focus on championship
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BOSTON -- LeBron James' singular focus is to win the one thing his illustrious career has been missing, and he doesn't feel extra motivation to eliminate an old nemesis in the process.
This is the third straight year James' team has met the Celtics in the postseason, and the fourth time in five years. James was 0-2 against Boston with Cleveland and beat them last year in his first season with the Heat. Miami is up 2-1 on Boston, with Game 4 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals Sunday night.
Evening his career playoff record against the Celtics isn't what drives James. He just sees Boston as a team standing in the way of his finally winning a championship ring.
"I don't need to be hungrier at this point," James said before the Heat practiced Saturday at TD Banknorth Garden. "It's the conference finals. I'm fine and I'm looking forward to it."
The winner of this series represented the Eastern Conference in the Finals the last three times they met, and that will be the case again this time. But getting there won't be enough for either team, and certainly not James.
He's been to the NBA Finals twice -- once with Cleveland in 2007 and last year with Miami -- and has come up empty both times.
There is a large faction of basketball fans, and society as a whole, that hopes James never wins an NBA championship. His ill-conceived "Decision" -- in which he announced he was signing with the Heat -- and the over-the-top party thrown after he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces has made James one of the most vilified players.
But James also is the best all-around player in the game today. He won his third MVP this year and has been the most dominant player in this postseason, averaging 29.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists and guarding every position on the floor.
It's hard for any fan not to want to see what James will do next, how this utterly incredible season will end for the most scrutinized and in some ways most criticized NBA player, if not professional athlete.
"He sneezes and it's a trending topic on Twitter," Heat forward Shane Battier said Saturday. "He is a fascinating study because he's really the first and most seminal sports figure in the information age, where everything he does is reported and dissected and second-guessed many times over, and he handles everything with an amazing grace and patience that I don't know if other superstars from other areas would have been able to handle."
It is true. James has taken up reading books after shootarounds and before games, and it's been written and tweeted about extensively.
By the way, James just started his sixth book this postseason -- the third installment of "The Hunger Games."
There is a different hunger to James' game now, and getting past the Celtics is just a means to an end for him.
"Whatever happened in the past -- good bad, indifferent -- it's in the past," Battier said. "I think LeBron is in a really good spot personally and professionally and he's focused on what he needs to do for our team."
And winning the one thing he hasn't.