- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Government OKs Arab-owned company to operate U.S. cargo port
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell’s wife had ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House unveils bill to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
James, Heat start tuning for East finals
Question of the Day
MIAMI (AP) - LeBron James shook a few hands, slapped a few fives, gave a few hugs.
A return to the Eastern Conference finals _ no small achievement by any measure _ is nice, though it’s far from the oft-stated goal for the reigning NBA MVP and the Heat. They’ll host Game 1 of the East title series on Monday night against Boston.
“You can’t just show up, no matter who you’re playing against,” James said Saturday, when the Heat resumed practice after taking one day off to rest up and recover from a grind against Indiana. “We have to prepare the same way we’ve done the first two rounds _ and even prepare ourselves even more. As the rounds go, the competition grows, so we look forward to the challenge.”
The way James sees it, there’s not a lot of reason for celebration yet. After all, he’s not wearing the letters VIII across his upper teeth.
Over the past couple seasons, James has worn mouthguards with fangs, others with the Heat logo, and some with no adornments whatsoever. For these playoffs, he’s broken out something new: A mouthguard embossed “XVI.”
It doesn’t take much to decipher what those Roman numerals are supposed to signify. It’s 16, the number of wins that the Heat would need to capture the NBA championship. Miami has the first eight of those out of the way, but in this all-or-nothing season for the Heat, that’s far from enough to satisfy anyone. Beating New York brought one or two quick moments of excitement, as did topping Indiana, but neither provided the ultimate moment.
“The first year in Cleveland, when we beat Washington in that first-round series, it was an achievement for not only myself and my teammates but for our franchise, which hadn’t been to the playoffs in a long time,” James said. “Those days are over. My aspiration is to go win a championship now. So those days are over.”
They’ve been over for a while, of course. And as if anyone needed any reminder of the goal, James started wearing the “XVI” mouthguard. The idea came from Mike Mancias, a trainer who has worked with James for years, first in Cleveland and for the past two seasons with the Heat.
“We always look for inspiration throughout the playoffs and throughout the season to just kind of get me going,” James said. “He knows that I’m a big Gladiator fan, of course Maximus, the Roman numerals, all that stuff. So that’s where the inspiration came from. Sometimes I say I want something, sometimes Mike surprises me with a lot of it. I like that. I like the inspiration.”
Of course, the main source of inspiration remains the championship trophy.
Saturday was essentially a tuneup day for the Heat, given that they couldn’t exactly plan for an opponent because the Celtics’ 85-75 victory in Game 7 was still hours from tip-off.
Miami practiced again without All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who remains sidelined indefinitely because of a lower abdominal strain that kept him out of the final five games of the Indiana series. Bosh has been able to resume some light conditioning work, but his return to the court hardly sounds imminent.
“For me, it’s my responsibility right now to prepare this team without him,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “If and when it gets to a point where he starts to emerge into the picture, we would gladly deal with that, because we’re a more dangerous offensive team, a more dangerous defensive team when he’s in the mix. But for our mental state of health, I love you Chris, but our preparation is without him.”
Without Bosh, James and Dwyane Wade predictably were asked to do more, and responded.
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- PHILLIPS: Once-in-a-century stupidity
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- PRUDEN: When the hangman botches the job
- Kerry's credibility questioned as fighting in Gaza rages
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world