LeBron James has critics that Michael Jordan never dealt with
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org June 19, 2013 11:09PM
Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) passes against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half at Game 4 of the NBA Finals basketball series, Thursday, June 13, 2013, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
HEAT vs. SPURS
Series tied 3-3
G1: Spurs 92, at Heat 88
G2: at Heat 103, Spurs 84
G3: at Spurs 113, Heat 77
G4: Heat 109, at Spurs 93
G5: at Spurs 114, Heat 104
G6: at Heat 103, Spurs 100 (OT)
G7: Thursday at Heat, 8 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2013 10:50AM
MIAMI — LeBron James isn’t trying to be like Mike.
Frankly, he has a more sophisticated all-around game than Bulls legend Michael Jordan did. James is a better passer, a better rebounder and a more versatile defender.
Plus, Jordan never had to deal with the daily criticism and scrutiny James has had to endure.
One day after his heroics in Game 6, in which he messed around and still got his second triple-double of the NBA Finals, James was being asked why it took him until the fourth quarter to go into attack mode.
“I think opportunities are different from quarter to quarter,’’ James said Wednesday. “My opportunities were more open in the fourth quarter, and I decided to take advantage of it.’’
He brought Miami back from the brink of elimination by going 7-for-11 for 16 points in the fourth, leading to Ray Allen’s three-pointer with five seconds left that sent the game into overtime.
And the critics who were saying Allen saved James’ legacy? Well, then John Paxson and Steve Kerr saved Jordan’s legacy.
Paxson in 1993, Kerr in 1997, and both happened in Game 6.
So another day for James, another round of playing defense attorney for his own place in NBA history.
“That’s OK,’’ James said of the criticism. “It won’t stop me from loving the game, playing at a high level, doing it for my teammates, putting that uniform on.
“First of all, I mean, I’m blessed, man. I don’t even know how I got here. I wasn’t supposed to be in the NBA if you go by the statistics and me growing up where I grew up.
‘‘Every time I go into the locker room and see the ‘James’ on the back of an NBA jersey, I’m like, ‘Wow, no criticism can deter me from playing this game because of that.’ I’m not supposed to be here. The fact that I’m doing what I’m doing and doing it for my teammates, it’s all that matters.’’
Not all that matters. Not with a Game 7 staring the Heat and Spurs in the face.
“All the years we’ve played together, we’ve never faced a situation like this,’’ Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “This is new.’’
San Antonio has played in a Game 7 in the Finals before, but not on the road and never after choking away a Game 6. They watched a 13-point lead disappear with no off switch for James in sight.
“I’m sure a lot of people are asking why [James] doesn’t do it all the time,’’ Spurs guard Danny Green said.
“It takes a lot to do that all the time; it takes a lot of energy. [Tuesday] night, we didn’t do a good job of shutting that switch down.’’
If there’s a team capable of keeping that switch off, it’s the Spurs.
But don’t count on it.
Be like Mike? No, thanks. Being LeBron James suits him just fine.