So why is the best also the last man on the practice court? How does the beast stay so hungry?
“He leaves nothing to chance. He doesn’t rest on his greatness,” says Wade. “But you would not know he’s the MVP of the league. He never boasts about it. ‘I’m just a kid from Akron.’ That’s his saying.”
This South Florida thrill ride began the night of July 8, 2010, when James’ announcement that he would be taking his talents to South Beach kicked off a celebration across greater Miami.
LeBron has not lived up to what we expected.
He has exceeded it.
“Our pinch-me moment was when we actually signed him,” Spoelstra said.
The moments keep coming.
Teammates emphasize what a kind, generous teammate he is when no one is looking.
The selflessness extends to games, where assists bring him more joy than baskets, and where his pride in playing defense brings as much satisfaction as any slam dunk.
The number of Miami’s turnovers and points allowed off those mistakes are the first statistics James looks for when handed a postgame boxscore.
With LeBron leading the way, it was not disingenuous when the Heat kept insisting it didn’t matter if it faced Chicago or Brooklyn next.
“We have an identity that’s not going to change with who we play,” as Spoelstra put it. “We want to impose that.”
Bosh was talking about how confident the team is and how you avoid becoming overconfident by having “that healthy fear.”
One wonders why Miami would fear any team, though.
One would imagine every other team should fear Miami.
That, too, starts with LeBron.
“He has taken his game to another level. Reinvented himself,” Spoelstra said. “We’re grateful we have him on our side. You wonder, ‘How can he get better?’ But he’ll find a way.”
Teammates were kidding James that, with four NBA MVP trophies already in hand now, all he needs is 11 more so he can give one to everybody on the team.
The thing is, the prize James and the Heat are after is much smaller than a big trophy.
It slips on your finger.
“I understand why I’m here,” LeBron said, “and that’s to win championships.”
The greatest player on the planet will lead the greatest Heat team in franchise history onto the home floor Monday night, and those five words bear repeating:
Don’t take this for granted.