LeBron James pronounces himself the “easiest target in sports” and the four-time league MVP and two-time defending NBA champ may not be far off the mark.
James insists he turns off his phone off and purposely stays away from the tube during playoff season as to not have to hear or deal with all the knee-jerk rants of fans and pundits from one game to the next. But he’d have to exist in a vacuum the likes of the boy in the plastic bubble to have avoided all the madness of the last 36 hours.
James’ limbs cramped to the point he could hardly stand, affording the San Antonio Spurs the leg-room to run out to a 110-95 Game 1 win over the two-time defending champs and casting all the scrutiny squarely in the direction of the world’s most celebrated and dehydrated athlete.
“I know I’m the easiest target that we have in sports, I’m aware of it,” James told ESPN. “I really am. I believe it.”
It’s been that way since James was anointed and embraced his The Chosen One moniker in making his boys-to-men jump from high school to the NBA. James further cast himself the king of all hoops even as he estranged himself from his roots with his epic Decision of 2010, which took him from his hometown of Cleveland to the wondrous shores of South Beach.
“I can’t play the game of basketball and live my life on what other people expect me to do or what they think I should do, that doesn’t make me happy,” said James. “What makes me happy is being able to make plays for my teammates, to be able to represent the name on the back of my jersey. That’s what makes me happy. What everybody else thinks? That doesn’t really matter to me.”
In seeking to lead his Heat to the first NBA three-peat since the days of Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers, what matters most now to The King is winning and safeguarding his reign. James knows all eyes will again be on him come Sunday night’s Game 2 and that’s the energy he expects to drive him.
“For me, all I can control is what I control,” James said. “For me, as one of the leaders of our team, one of the biggest competitors of our team, and knowing what it takes to win, for me, I’ll maintain my focus and get ready for Game 2. There’s anger in the sense that I wasn’t able to be out there for my teammates to possibly help them win Game 1 of the Finals. But what I can control is what I do to prepare myself mentally going to the next game.”
And that all starts with knowing who he is, knowing that he’s the sports world’s easiest target, and figuring out how to use all that hateration as fuel for the next game.