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The spotlight is there for Durant, if he wants it
Question of the Day
“I don’t want to sound like a jerk or anything, but I really don’t care what people say outside the locker room, outside of this organization, what I need to do or what I didn’t do. I really don’t care,” Durant said. “You know, I’m a guy that lets the game come to me but is also aggressive at the same time. I know when to take shots, when to make the right play.
“People can say this and that. I learn to just tune it out and just play my game.”
James and Wade are as much celebrities as athletes, answering questions about fashion Wednesday while every inquiry to Durant was about basketball. And with more attention on the Miami duo, so is the “noise” that coach Erik Spoelstra says the team is always trying to ignore.
Last year it was focused on James after his repeated fourth-quarter failures in the Heat’s loss to Dallas. He was outplayed in the final period by Durant on Wednesday but otherwise had a strong game, his 30 points his most ever in the finals.
Now the blame seems to be shifted toward Wade, who hasn’t been consistent this postseason while perhaps still dealing with knee pain. He shot just 7 for 19 in Game 1, with Spoelstra denying there was anything physically wrong.
“A lot of times I try to let him figure it out on his own, but sometimes I go to him and tell him I need one of those games from him, I need one of those performances from him, because he still has it,” James said. “He knows he still has it, too, but every player needs a little kick every now and then, no matter how time tested they are.”
Wade was briefly THE guy in the NBA six years ago, leading the Heat to an NBA title at 24 and looking as if he could have plenty of years on top.
Things are set up for Durant, just 23, to inherit that role now. He can put himself on a list along with Michael Jordan, Bryant and Willis Reed, who were MVPs of the All-Star game and finals in the same year, then will chase Olympic gold with the U.S. team this summer.
Game 1 had barely ended when already Durant was talking about what he could do better in Game 2, and that’s as far as he’ll look for now.
“I’m just taking it a day at a time,” he said. “It’s just a blessing to be here, not just in the finals but being in the NBA, having this opportunity to do something I love to do, and just take it slow, take it a day at a time, keep working every single day, and at the end we’ll see where I’m at. But I can’t think too far down the line. Just got to be ready for the next day and prepare myself right for whatever happens.”
By Mark Davis
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