PORTLAND, Ore. -- The lights are not always brighter in Los Angeles, according to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
James and Wade had to chuckle Thursday when asked if the current scrutiny the Lakers are experiencing compares to what the Heat went through in 2010. Not even close, said the Heat’s stars.
“No one will ever be able to compare what we went through,” James said. “Even though they’re not winning and they’re losing a lot of games, it’s still nowhere near what we went through.
“Yeah, right. That level of magnitude was nowhere near where ours was two years ago. Nothing. Nothing compares to it.”
In years past, the Heat’s current struggles might have been the lead story in the NBA, but the Lakers’ tumult has pushed the Heat’s rebounding woes out of the focus. In the preseason, Los Angeles and its rebuilt roster was the favorite to reach the NBA Finals. With a losing record more than two months into the season, the Lakers are ranked 11th in the Western Conference standings and in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.
“It’s the Lakers,” Wade said. “They’re America’s team. I keep saying it. They’re the standard of what the NBA has been for years, Boston and the Lakers. But the Lakers are in L.A., the big market. So, from that standpoint, you understand it. You get it.”
Still, Wade and James seem to take some satisfaction in believing what the Heat survived in 2010 was more difficult.
On the surface, the prideful chest pounding seems a little silly, but James in particular has said overcoming the negative attention in 2010 was one of the biggest accomplishments of his career.
The difference between the Lakers’ negative spotlight and the Heat’s scrutiny in 2010, according to Wade, was that Miami began the season fighting off potential distractions. The Heat’s celebration after signing Wade, James and Chris Bosh, plus James’ ill-conceived TV special ensured a rocky start for the Heat if it didn’t win immediately.
“Because of everything that happened in 2010 with offseason signings, it was, automatically, just a lot of negative things that was said about us,” Wade said. “[Los Angeles] didn’t go through that at the beginning. They didn’t go through anything negative about bringing those guys together, so ours started off bad and it stayed bad for a while, and then we got better.”
The Lakers have yet to turn the corner. The Heat began 2010 with a record of 9-8 before running through the month of December with only one loss in 16 games.
A team meeting after a loss to Dallas in November of 2010 helped the Heat work through some of its problems. Another difference between the Heat in 2010 and the Lakers this season is the simple fact that most of the Heat’s problems were addressed internally. Although there were disagreements early on, those problems rarely surfaced in the media.
Wade suggested that some of the Lakers’ players were not fully prepared for the scrutiny.
“I know [Kobe Bryant] understands it,” Wade said. “That’s the nature of the beast out in L.A. I don’t know if every player that comes through there understands what you’re getting yourself into when you walk through those Lakers doors.”
Interest in oden?
A report by ESPN.com on Thursday said that the Heat has shown interest in possibly signing former Trail Blazers center Greg Oden if Oden attempts a comeback. Oden’s agent, Mike Conley Sr., told The Miami Herald on Thursday that the Heat has “never asked about Greg.”
“They have never made a single call about him,” Conley said. “It’s strange this story [comes out] because I spoke to them this week about Daequan Cook before he signed with Chicago. They never asked about Greg.”
Oden, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007, has had five knee operations.