Heat notebook

Miami Heat’s LeBron James unhappy with second place finish for defensive award

 

jgoodman@MiamiHerald.com

LeBron James is not happy he finished second in voting for Defensive Player of Year behind Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.

“It sucks,” James said on Thursday before Game 3 against the Bucks at Bradley Center. “It just sucks.”

James was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for the first five months of the NBA’s six-month season and will likely be close to a unanimous selection for his fourth MVP award in five seasons. He prides himself on defense just as much as offense, so finishing second isn’t something worth celebrating.

“It definitely sucks, finishing second,” James said. “Who wants to finish second?”

James has finished second in voting for Defensive Player of the Year twice in his career. He was runner-up for the award in 2009. James averaged 8.0 rebounds per game this season, a career high. He averaged 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks per game.

When asked if this season was his best as a defender, James said “probably” and then presented his case.

“I guard everybody on the floor,” James said. “I don’t [know of] one player in NBA history who guards one through five. So … it’s over with now, but that’s OK.”

There have been times this season when James has guarded opposing point guards and centers, though his primary defensive responsibility is guarding an opposing team’s small forward. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra calls James “one through five” for his ability to guard each position on the floor.

College daze

The old gym where Dwyane Wade once practiced at Marquette has been replaced by Al McGuire Center, where the Heat held its morning shootaround Thursday.

But it didn’t diminish Wade’s memories of Marquette any.

“It was just cool remembering being here a decade ago, but it doesn’t feel like a decade ago,” Wade said. “It feels just like yesterday.”

Wade was drafted by the Heat after leading Marquette to a Final Four appearance in 2003 as a junior.

“To be back here in the playoffs is a cool thing,” Wade said. “Coming back here to see the history, and knowing you were a part of it is great.”

Wade said the working conditions are much better at the Al McGuire Center than they were at old Marquette Gymnasium, which he said had “no air, just heat only.”

“It was a cool experience coming back here,” Wade said. “None of that was here when I was here. The Al McGuire Center wasn’t here. I remember them calling me out of class to come over and break ground on it.

Miami Herald sportswriter Clark Spencer contributed to this report.

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