At 6:25 am on Monday morning, LeBron James picked up the phone. He wrote a message to his fans (read comments below: even anyone who doesn’t like them) that he couldn’t sleep after losing to the Miami Heat in the third game of the final series of the NBA North American professional basketball championship. “My brain is still in sprint mode,” wrote the Los Angeles Lakers director: “I love it! I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Who can blame him for insomnia? He’s been in the basketball bubble in Orlando / Florida for three months. Anyone who talks to players who have been there knows that this is an extreme situation because there is hardly any distraction due to the strict rules and time passes slowly. It’s not just about sports, with protests against police violence and racism in the United States, the NBA season was coming to an end and James was known to have been among those who wanted to go home.
Perhaps the following thought made him fall asleep: What if we play and finish empty-handed after all this?
Anyone who saw James on the ground on Tuesday night discovered, after colleague Anthony Davis’ successful three-point shot in the last quarter, a person who seemed relieved and satisfied. No, it wouldn’t be 2-2 in this final series against the wild and unyielding heat pros; even bad thoughts are gone. Because after a 102: 96 Los Angeles leads 3: 1, missing a win, then James won the title with the third club after Cleveland and Miami.
“I felt the pressure, it was one of the biggest games of his career,” James said. And it’s important that he said it even if he didn’t shine. Okay, he still got 28 points, twelve rebounds and eight assists, of course, and gave the Lakers the lead with a three-point shot in the third quarter. Final action, however, was achieved by Davis with this three-point shot and Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with courageous individual action. So James’s claim was not the deception of a proud egotist, but that of the leader of a team who shows less show than he prevents the opponent from showing.
It’s hard to have good chances against these Lakers
It wasn’t a spectacular match, but it was intense. This is exactly what critics accused the Lakers of after the third game. Miami’s best, Jimmy Butler, had shown a heroic performance (40 points, eleven rebounds, 13 assists), but the Lakers had listlessly defended themselves, but most of all they had given up! There were only ten seconds left to play, but James and two colleagues left the field: only two Lakers players remained.
James said he was already throwing up on himself and his colleagues when he retired, frustrated with the defensive attitude and work. He had experienced something similar before, in 2011 as a Miami Heat player, when his team lost a 15-point lead over Dirk Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks in the last quarter of the second game. And James made fun of Nowitzki’s cold – and the series lost. “We have to push each other,” he said after the defeat in the third game: “They are very, very good in attack – I take responsibility for the fact that we defended badly.”
The fourth game was not an offensive spectacle for the Lakers. Rather, a demonstration of what the team is capable of when they focus and defend as they have usually done this season. James and Davis took turns guarding Butler, conceding him just 22 points. It helped that Heat manager Goran Dragic (foot) was missing again and center Bam Adebayo (shoulder) was not in shape yet, but it also proved how difficult it is to get good chances against these Lakers. Almost every attempt by snipers Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson was thwarted and almost every attack on the basket was made difficult.
Now there is a two day break, the fifth game takes place on Friday night. “We can’t give up. We can recover our bodies, but we have to work around the clock,” James said. “I won’t sleep until it’s over.” His fans (and anyone who doesn’t like it) can continue to hope for the messages of the night.