Forgive Heat forward LeBron James if he isn’t overly excited about traveling to China for a pair of exhibition games.
Three months and 16 days after winning its second NBA title — and its first with James — the Heat plays its initial exhibition game of the new season Sunday in Atlanta.
After playing the Hawks, the Heat will face the Clippers on Thursday in Beijing and Oct. 14 in Shanghai. The grueling trip will mark James’ ninth journey to Asia and his second in the past four weeks.
“Do I look excited?” James told a few reporters. “I don’t?”
James, who is marketed across the world and has gone on business trips to Asia, made sure to express his appreciation for the fans in China.
“The people there are very passionate about basketball,” James said. “For us to go over there to represent the NBA is good.”
Part of James’ concern, though, is the wear and tear on his body after a long postseason run, winning Olympic gold in London and now another international trip.
“I’ve been everywhere,” he said.
James said there will be “one or two” exhibition games where he will be rested but joked that if it was up to coach Erik Spoelstra, James would play all eight. On Sunday, James is expected to play limited minutes.
“The Atlanta fans will be happy that ‘Spo’ is making me active for [Sunday],” James said. “It will be fun to be out there with my new teammates like Ray [Allen] and Rashard [Lewis].
“The only thing that matters in an exhibition game is that we get better. But if I’m out on the floor — and you guys know me — I will play at a high level. I will produce.”
James acknowledged that a long road trip like the one to China is an excellent opportunity for the Heat to bond — much as the team did in 2008 in Paris and London.
“It’s a little drastic — it’s a very long trip — but we will be around each other a lot,” James said. “It’s just us. It should be fun. We won’t waste this opportunity.”
As an experienced traveler to the Far East, James said he will talk to his young teammates about what to eat in China.
“I will give them a tutorial on how we are going to diet on this trip,” James said. “If anyone comes back with extra body fat, then I don’t know what they were doing on their free time.”
• Don’t look for James to emulate Stephon Marbury in China and spend his last days as a pro basketball player overseas.
“No, no, no,” James said. “[The NBA] is the best league the world has to offer. If I’m lucky enough and stay healthy, I’d love to finish my career in this league.”
Wade ready for trip
Heat guard Dwyane Wade said he had “a lot of reading material, a lot of movies” for the 14-hour flight to China.
Wade, who had offseason knee surgery, also said he is feeling “good.”
Spoelstra said Wade practiced in full on Saturday, but neither would commit if the Heat star will play Sunday.
“Coaches’ decision,” Wade said. “I didn’t really know what to expect [before practices started] because I didn’t push it a lot this summer.
“But I did everything the doctors asked of me and made sure I got extra conditioning so that I won’t have any setbacks.”
• Spoelstra said center Joel Anthony and point guard Mario Chalmers will not play Sunday as they recover from minor injuries. They competed in noncontact drills Saturday.
Everyone else, the coach said, is eligible to play.
• Heat players are ready to compete against another team, Spoelstra said. “If they had another practice like this one [Saturday], I think there’d be some fights.”