LeBron James believes he's doing what's best for Heat
MIAMI - LeBron James often can see plays developing before most people can. And sometimes he can even anticipate where a question is headed before it's even asked.
The heavily scrutinized James had a triple-double in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Spurs on Thursday night, but the Heat lost.
"I should have done more, right?" James said, stopping the questioner.
Had the Heat taken the 1-0 lead, James' 18-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist night would have added to his legend. But because he scored only six points in the fourth quarter, he carried the weight of Miami's loss -- more so than Chris Bosh, who had only two points in the final quarter, and Dwyane Wade, who was scoreless in the last 14:35.
"I'm definitely glad I don't have that kind of pressure on me," Spurs great Tim Duncan said.
James took that pressure into Game 2 Sunday night, knowing it was the Heat's biggest game of the season. The defending champions couldn't afford to fall behind 2-0 with Games 3, 4 and 5 in San Antonio.
A Heat loss, and James probably would hear on TV or from the voice in his head that he should have done more.
"I can't get involved in that, honestly, because I've done more and lost before," James said. "When I was in Cleveland, we played Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals and I think I averaged 38, 36, or whatever I averaged. I guess I should have done more in that series, as well. But I can't. I do what's best for the team. What's best for the team, it doesn't always result in a win."
James, the two-time reigning MVP, is used to everything falling on his shoulders. It was the same in Cleveland, but the light is much brighter in Miami after James left home to join Wade and Bosh in South Beach.
When the Mavericks beat the Heat in the Finals in 2011, James was criticized for shrinking in the fourth quarter. Last year, he was praised for carrying Miami to the title.
But a triple-double in which James grabbed more rebounds than anyone else -- more than Miami's four other starters combined -- and recorded half the Heat's assists just wasn't enough.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich -- who has an interesting relationship with the media, to say the least -- thinks people should leave James alone. But Popovich also is happy that James is tuning out the noise more than in the past.
"He's a grown man," Popovich said. "He doesn't need any of you to tell him anything. He knows more than all of you put together. He understands the game. He's a great player, and his decisions are what they are. All the chirp, chirp, chirping about what he should have done, I thought it was hilarious from the beginning. Frankly, I was very happy for him as the year progressed when it became obvious he was comfortable in his own skin and didn't need to listen to any of you all."
James was expected to be more aggressive Sunday night. He took only 16 shots in Game 1, the fifth-fewest he's attempted in these playoffs. James often had two Spurs on him so he made the pass. His teammates missed many open, makeable shots; James counted four of them by Bosh. But James said he would make those passes again. "I want to win just as bad as anyone," he said. "I'm going to put myself and my team in a position to win. I have to try to make the plays. I can't worry about if people are saying you should have done more, you should have been more aggressive because you got a loss. Winning and losing is part of the game."