Coaches around the NBA voted LeBron James to his fifth consecutive NBA All-Defensive First Team for the 2012-13 season, the league announced Monday.
James has made the team each year since joining the Heat and now has the most selections to the defensive first team in franchise history. Alonzo Mourning was a first-team defender twice.
“I’m honored to be recognized, but as a team we all take that side of the ball really seriously, and we try to be the best defensive team each and every game,” James said.
Joakim Noah of the Bulls, Serge Ibaka (Thunder), Tyson Chandler (Knicks), Tony Allen (Grizzlies) and Chris Paul (Clippers) also made the all-defensive first team.
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James received 25 first-team votes, tying for the most in the league. Dwyane Wade and Shane Battier received two points each in the voting system, but not enough to crack either the first or second teams.
James finished second in voting for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, which is voted on by writers and broadcasters who cover the league. Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was Defensive Player of the Year, but was a second-team all-defensive selection by coaches.
“He’s built up great habits,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James. “You don’t typically see star players at a young age commit to both sides of the floor, but as an organization, we pride ourselves on having two-way players. He’d already established himself as arguably the best two-way guy before we got him, but he’s committed at that end. It’s not only the effort and making spectacular plays, but the attention to detail. And, for us, committing to defend 1-5 on a consistent basis.”
Spoelstra’s nickname for James is “one-through-five” for his ability to defend every position on the court.
James said his overall commitment to defense has grown through the years, and Wade agreed.
“He’s taken more pride in it as he’s gotten older,” Wade said. “But I think he’s always been a great all-around player. I think he just got put in a situation here where coaches are counting on him to do different things and challenge him different defensively probably than he was before.”
Wade aggravated his right knee during the second quarter, forcing him out of the game briefly. Wade sat on the bench and shook his head in frustration while being attended to be Heat trainer Jay Sabol and team doctor Harlan Selesnick.
At the time of the injury, Wade was 0 of 4 from the field with two turnovers.
While on the bench, Wade had his kneepad lowered to reveal a large bandage on his knee, which was removed and redressed before Wade reentered the game. Wade’s right knee has bothered him for at least the past two months. He will not talk about the nature of the injury but has repeatedly indicated that the chronic soreness will be with him throughout the playoffs. Wade had his left knee drained during the 2012 playoffs.
Wade is slowly growing accustomed to wearing a mouthpiece during games. Knowing it would be a physical series against the Bulls, Wade began wearing the oral protection for the first time in his career for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Wade, who has chewed gum during games throughout his career, said it has been a difficult adjustment but felt it was necessary “because I’ve been getting hit in my mouth too much. I’ve been getting cuts in my mouth and I can’t eat during the week.”
Wade said he plans on wearing the mouthpiece “forever,” or at least until his career over. “I finally gave in,” Wade said. “I even told my kids to start wearing mouthpieces and they’re like, ‘Dad, it’s not that physical yet.’”