LeBron James doesn't believe in second-guessing himself. He made that clear a few weeks ago when he refused to apologize to Cleveland fans for the way he announced on national television last July that he was leaving them for Miami.
James was booed heavily when he returned to Cleveland, but said he isn't worried about getting a harsh reception when he plays Friday night in New York. He said he loves playing at the Garden but simply prefers to be there in a visitor's uniform.
"I thought New York wasn't a good fit for me," James told reporters after Wednesday night's Heat-Cavaliers game when asked why he didn't become a Knick. He added that he wasn't all that interested in resurrecting a franchise.
Said James: "I'm not about saving franchises, or saving this or that. It's about me winning."
Yet it's hard to think that James wouldn't be doing some second-guessing Friday night if the Heat hadn't recently turned the corner. If Miami still were playing the mediocre brand of basketball it was at the beginning of the season instead of riding a 10-game winning streak, it's hard to believe that James wouldn't take one look at the pumped-up crowd at the Garden and wonder "what if?"
"It's the Mecca of basketball," James said.
Instead, James chose to play at the Mecca of Coppertone. And at the beginning of the season, he and his All-Star teammates were struggling to play .500 basketball in front of a fan base so disinterested that the franchise had to start a marketing campaign aimed at getting people to stay in their seats until the game was over.
Three weeks ago - coincidentally, a few days before James returned to Cleveland and beat his former team, 118-90 - the Heat overcame its early-season dysfunction. The team tightened its perimeter defense and started moving the ball and pressing the pace. The Heat's three superstars - James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh - started playing with one another. During the recent surge, James and Wade have been stars and Bosh has improved greatly from his poor start.
Bosh, a jump-shooting big man, felt at the beginning of the season that the team wanted him to be more of a traditional big man who could take on brawnier centers on the inside. But in recent weeks, since power forward Udonis Haslem was sidelined with a foot injury, the Heat has played Bosh almost exclusively at power forward. And letting him play his finesse game has paid off.
In fact, it may have been the actions of Bosh that helped Miami continue the momentum from the Cleveland game into the next contest, a tough game at home against Atlanta. Bosh scored nine of his season-high 27 points in the fourth quarter while screaming at the fans to help fire them up.
"I've never won 10 games in a row," Bosh said Wednesday. "So I'm happy."
So is coach Erik Spoelstra, who not long ago didn't look as if he were going to keep his job past Christmas.
Spoelstra doesn't expect the atmosphere at the Garden to be any tougher than most places his team has played this season.
Said Spoelstra: "We're Public Enemy No. 1 virtually everywhere we go.''