Showing a new commitment to improve his outside shooting, LeBron James has started arriving early to AmericanAirlines Arena with Ray Allen and James Jones. James was on the court Friday about 2 1/2 hours before tipoff, hoisting up three-pointers with the Heat’s long-distance specialists.
He began the season shooting a career-high clip from distance but has cooled off considerably in recent weeks. James is now shooting 39.2 percent.
Although that percentage is still more than respectable for a player of James’ multi-faceted skill set, he’s hoping the extra work fixes his shot.
Entering Friday night, James was 6 of 22 from three-point range (27.2 percent) in his past six games.
“When you get here early to shoot, you can find your rhythm without feeling pressed for time,” Jones said. “Everyone knows shooting is mental. You have to be physically and mentally prepared.”
The new routine didn’t help much Wednesday against the Raptors. James went 1 of 5 from three-point range. He had shot 1 of 5 from long distance in three of his past six games before Friday.
“He wants to be a better shooter,” Jones said.
If he’s looking for a shot doctor, James’ pregame company can’t be any better. Jones, who won the All-Star three-point contest in 2010, has made a career out of shooting beyond the arc. Then there is Allen, the NBA’s career leader in three-pointers. Allen’s day-in, day-out preparation is legendary throughout the league.
He has arrived early to arenas both home and away throughout his career. On road trips, he takes a cab to arenas, leaving long before the team’s first bus (the shooters’ bus) even departs team hotels.
Chris Bosh was named to his eighth All-Star Game on Thursday night, but that meant players like Paul Pierce and Brook Lopez were left off the list.
The current All-Star rosters are limited to 12 spots, which means some very deserving players are always snubbed.
James has a solution, and it’s a simple one: “Always believe there should be 15 on both rosters, so there’s no snubs” James wrote on Twitter. James then added the names of players he would select from both conferences to fill the extra roster spots. From the East, James would add Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith and Pierce. From the West, James tabbed Stephen Curry, Jamal Crawford and Marc Gasol.
Of course, what about players like Nets center Lopez and Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried? No matter how large or small, All-Star teams will always be debated.
James offered individual congratulations to Kyrie Irving and Paul George, who will be making their first All-Star appearances.
James has mentored Irving, the Cavaliers’ second-year point guard, since Irving was in high school. George has had a breakout season for the Pacers ever since teammate Danny Granger went down with an injury. James jokingly added a few words of caution: “Don’t air ball that 1st shot. Hahaha.”
Jones, the Heat’s reserve three-point specialist, had a special request for Heat upper management before Friday’s game.
“This is what you need to write on your blog,” Jones joked to a reporter.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if the Heat got Wi-Fi on the team plane for the trip back from Toronto?”
The Heat is going to be in the air on Super Bowl Sunday, and the team plane is not equipped with ground-to-air Wi-Fi capabilities.
Jones isn’t the only player disappointed about missing the big game.
“I’m not happy about it,” Shane Battier said. “It’s un-American. It’s an unofficial national holiday.”