LeBron James: What Miami Heat Fans Should Take Away from His Olympic Efforts
LeBron James has a been a large reason as to why the Americans are 5-0 going into the quarterfinals.
In a game that could have been considered a test, the United States got past Argentina 126-97. Kevin Durant contributed 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter. KD and James were two of the main factors that enabled the Americans were to have 42 in the third after only leading by one at half.
James added 18 points, including seven to start the third quarter. The reigning MVP has used his athleticism and strong build to get easy baskets for the U.S.
In Saturday's game against Lithuania, James scored nine of his 20 points in the final four minutes. He now has 225 points as a U.S. Olympian. The Miami Heat forward is only six points shy from Charles Barkley for third place on the career list.
King James' performance gives the Miami Heat fans another sigh of relief that he is one of the leaders on their squad. James and Durant have led this team to the strong start.
When times were tough in the 99-94 victory over Lithuania, James proved that he can take over and finish.
The U.S. is the only undefeated team out of Group A and Group B. The 5-0 record and sheer dominance is due to many players, but James has been one of the more consistent ones.
While the Americans are hoping to avoid an embarrassing upset, the Miami Heat nation is glad to see that James has been a clutch leader throughout the Olympics.
James has been able to score at will, while also being able to find his teammates. In the win over Argentina, James had five assists to go with the 18 points.
Here are some things that Miami Heat fans should take out of James' Olympic performance thus far.
When Times Get Tough, James Delivers
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The Miami Heat star is a spark. It's as simple as that. When times got rough late against Lithuania, it was James who made sure an upset wouldn't occur.
James has made life for Heat fans even better with this performance. Not only is he representing America, but also the Miami Heat, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh being unable to make the trip to London.
With all the past criticism of having to rely on others in late stages of games, James has been more aggressive and a leader in these Olympics thus far.
Sure, he hasn't had a 37-point game such as Carmelo Anthony, but without James and Durant, could this team win gold? At times in these Olympics, you could make a case for yes. At other times, there is some extra doubt.
Through James' seven points to start the third quarter, the U.S. was able to get some breathing room from a tough Argentinian team led by Manu Ginobli. The third quarter ended up being 42-17 in the Americans' favor.
As Competitive as They Come
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James doesn't just want one gold medal. It's a special honor to represent your country and all, but James has been competitive from day one.
With a bronze finish in 2004, James captured gold in 2008 during the Beijing Olympics. Now, four years later, James has learned how relieving it is to finally win something you've worked so hard for.
Now, in 2012, James is an NBA champion. It wasn't easy, but James can finally call himself a champion.
These Olympic moments don't last forever. Wade and Bosh probably didn't expect to miss the Olympics in 2012 four years ago. Unfortunate injuries and events occur.
James realizes this. He wants another gold medal to add to his resume.
James Can Handle Expectations
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The Miami Heat should be in the championship hunt every season with the roster it has. When you have three players as good as James, Wade and Bosh, there should be championship expectations.
Add those guys with Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem and other role players, and the team should be close to unbeatable.
The expectations are high for this American team as well. It's basically gold or bust. Anything short of gold is a complete shocker/embarrassment.
James said it best—the only story is if we lose. The U.S. team should understand that this group is supposed to win every game. And not only win these games, but blow teams out of the water.
For James, the added expectations are nothing new. With the Miami Heat, throughout all the adversity, the Heat were supposed to come away with a championship in both seasons. Miami captured it against the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2011-2012, but once again, it wasn't easy.
James has learned how to deal with the demons of the outside world. There will be critics, and lots of them. The best thing is just to play the game as if you haven't heard anything from the media.
And when you have this team being compared to the Dream Team of '92 on a daily basis, those expectations skyrocket.
If you're a leader on this team, and you're saying that this team could beat a team that had every member enter the Hall-of-Fame with the exception of one, there will be increased expectations.
For Heat fans, be assured that those expectations have become successes for James.