When the Miami Heat win, as they miraculously did in Game 6 of the Finals, LeBron James usually gets—and deserves—a lot of the credit. When the Heat lose, as they have three times in the Finals, James usually gets—but doesn’t always deserve—a lot of the blame.
“It is what it is,” James says. “That’s OK.”
While addressing the media on Wednesday afternoon before practice, an always self-aware James spoke about the outsized expectations placed on him and the outspoken critics who sic him at every turn.
“[The criticism] won’t stop me from loving the game, playing at a high level, doing it for my teammates, putting that uniform on,” says James.
After starting Game 6 off somewhat shakily, James gathered himself and finished with an unimaginable 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Still, while he knows that statistics and wins are the only salve that will stave off the media, the 28-year-old has a broader view of his current situation that’s based on other stats.
“I’m blessed, man,” says James. “I don’t even know how I got here. I wasn’t supposed to be in the NBA, if you go by statistics and things of me growing up where I grew up.
“Every time I go into my 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.”
Game 7 is set to tip at 9:10 p.m., on Thursday night, at AmericanAirlines Arena. James, like many other players in the Finals, limped out of the Arena after Game 6. And just like the other players, plus some hefty expectations, James says he’ll be ready to go for the series’ deciding game.
“Nobody’s body is feeling great at this point from both teams,” says James. “But for me it’s all about—it’s more mind over matter, man. I’m hurting. But it doesn’t matter. It’s the last game of the season, so it’s whatever.”
James shouldn’t even be here, so what’s playing through a little pain, soreness and fatigue?