It's not easy being "The King."
During Game 1 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James tallied 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists for a quiet but extraordinary triple-double. Unfortunately, the Miami Heat ended up losing to the San Antonio Spurs, and LeBron subsequently took the blame.
During a recent press conference, James responded to his critics.
Associated Press provided a written recap of LeBron's comments (h/t ESPN.com).
I've done more and lost before.
I wish we could go 16-0 in the playoffs.That would be awesome. There's challenges that come from the game. You learn from game to game in ways that you can get better. I want to win just as bad as anyone.
I'm going to put myself and my team in a position to win. I have to try to make the plays. I can't worry about if people are saying, "You should have done more, you should have been more aggressive" because you got a loss.
How dare he only rally off a triple-double.
LeBron did struggle from the field, but he made up for his shooting woes in the best way possible. In fact, before the fourth quarter rolled around, the Heat were actually winning and shooting close to 50 percent from the field.
Even still, the media has found reason to criticize LeBron, of all people.
Even if the four-time MVP hadn't defended himself, there was another party taking his side. That wasn't Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or even Erik Spoelstra, but instead, one of the most surprising voices of all.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich:
[LeBron is] a grown man. He doesn't need any of you to tell him anything. He knows more than all of you put together. He understands the game. If he makes a pass and you all think he should have shot it, or he shoots it and you think he should have made a pass, your opinions mean nothing to him, as they should not mean anything to him.
Tell us how you really feel.
To be fair, Popovich has a point, and if he didn't respect what James does on the court, we know he'd tell us about it. Instead, one of the NBA's greatest leaders is offering up praise for the efforts of our reigning MVP.
Does LeBron James need to step up in Game 2?
It's something we should be doing too.
There's no question that LeBron will need to score more than 18 if the Heat are going to defeat the Spurs. With that being said, on a night in which LeBron rallies for a triple-double, there's no excuse for Chris Bosh shooting 6-of-16 and Ray Allen attempting just four field goals.
Perhaps it's time we stop protecting LeBron's teammates and start acknowledging the truth: Legends lead their teams to titles. There's nothing those players can do when their supporting cast refuses to show up.
Thus far, that's been the story from the Heat.