Does the scrutiny compare to what the Heat endured in 2010-11, when their three top stars first came together?
“Nope,” James said. “No, no, no, no. No one will ever be able to compare it to what we went through. Even though they’re not winning, and they’re losing a lot of games, that level of magnitude is nowhere near to where ours was two years ago. Nothing. Nothing compares to it.”
The Lakers have won two games since, and are now 17-21 on the season.
Still, even with that sorry record, the Lakers' contest Thursday against the visiting Heat will rank as one of the marquee matchups of the season, with eight players (four on each side) combining for 65 All-Star appearances, before starters and reserves for the 2013 All-Star Game are named.
After beating Golden State on Wednesday night, James was asked whether he was surprised about the way the Lakers have lagged behind others in the West.
"Yeah, I'm surprised just like everyone else, in the sense of how much talent they have," James said. "But I'm not surprised at some of the struggles. We had struggles too in year one. You can't force or fast-track camaraderie, guys coming together. It's a team game, and you have to work through a lot of things before it becomes a team. And we went through that as well."
They did. Miami started 9-8 during the 2010-11 season, but blitzed through the next few weeks to get to 29-9 through 38 games, and ultimately advanced all the way to the NBA Finals.
Why did the Heat get going sooner?
(All quotes in this piece were collected as part of the author's coverage of the Miami Heat for the Palm Beach Post. All statistics were accurate as of Wednesday afternoon.)