“Scary,” he said.
After a season where he won just about everything besides Powerball _ his third MVP award, his first NBA Finals MVP award and, of course, his first NBA championship _ James is going back to work. He and the Heat convened for their annual media day Friday, the prelude to Saturday morning’s opening practice and the first step toward what the Heat hope is another championship push.
“We can be better than we were this past season,” James said, on the day when he got sized for his first championship ring. “Are we better right now than we were just a couple months ago? Of course not. … But we have the potential to be better.
“We have the potential to be a lot better. That is scary.”
Chances are, the Heat will have to be better than they were last season to hoist another championship trophy next June. As if they weren’t the team on radar screens across the NBA already once James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decided to team up in Miami during the summer of 2010, winning a title will only make them more of a target.
And then adding a player like Ray Allen, whose last NBA game was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in Miami when he played for the Boston Celtics, only raises the ante that much more.
“We have one target,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Friday. “And that’s Miami.”
There was plenty going on around the Heat on Friday, some of it newsy, some of it more humorous, as typically is the case at a media day.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh talked about how they’re healing after injuries struck in last season’s playoffs. Allen and Rashard Lewis _ free-agent additions _ posed for photos in new Heat uniforms. Shane Battier talked about the NBA’s pet-peeve issue, flopping, hilariously calling it “a silent killer.” Udonis Haslem was followed by a camera crew to, as he said, document “The Little 12,” what he calls everyone not in the “Big Three” club of Wade, Bosh and James.
Haslem’s cameras might have been the only ones not on James, who hasn’t spoken publicly much since the Olympics ended.
“He’s not on cruise control, no,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about James. “He’s as driven a professional as I’ve been around. He understands not only his legacy, but team legacy and the opportunity that this team and organization has. And he savors that. He’s the ultimate competitor.”
It took James nine years to win that long-coveted first title, after leading the Heat past the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. His clinching performance was a classic _ a triple-double, 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. James came out with 3:01 remaining and the celebrating started, waving his arms and jumping on the sideline, then wrapping anyone and everyone he could reach in massive embraces.
So began his summer vacation. It lasted about a week.