Game 3 is on LeBron James.
The San Antonio Spurs picked apart the Miami Heat 113-77 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals to take a 2-1 series lead. LeBron scored just 15 points on 7-of-21 shooting for the game, including a 2-of-14 clip from outside the paint.
Speaking with the media in preparation for Game 4, LeBron took full responsibility for the loss, according to Howard Beck of The New York Times:
LeBron: "I take full responsibility" for the loss. Vows he will be better tomorrow.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) June 12, 2013
LeBron went as far as categorizing his efforts as unacceptable, admitting that if he isn't making plays then he's not doing his job or his teammates justice, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun:
"7-for-21 isn't going to cut it. 0 free throws isn't going to cut it ... I am the star, I am the leader. They look to me to make plays ...— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) June 12, 2013
"If I'm not doing that, I'm not doing my job."— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) June 12, 2013
There was no sugarcoating it, either. The way he played made fans yell expletives at their televisions. So, fittingly enough, he described his Game 3 performance using a swear word of his own, per TNT sideline reporter David Aldridge:
LeBron: "I'll be better. I'll be much better than I was last night...I played like (bleep)."— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 12, 2013
Grandmas everywhere would have LeBron wash his mouth out with soap, water and in extreme cases, disinfectant. Me, though? I'm proud of him.
Coming off a loss like the 36-point beatdown the Heat suffered, the old LeBron from 2011 may have tried to shift blame. This version of LeBron won't. He understands that he's the superstar, the leader who has to will Miami to victory no matter what.
Gone are the days where LeBron won't criticize himself. He's now introspective, reflecting and honest, even if that means coming to grips with a self-loathing truth, according to Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports:
LeBron: "Last night I didn't particularly care for myself."— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) June 12, 2013
Damn, LeBron. You really have come a long way.
Two years ago, he would have said he would "try" to play better. Now he's guaranteeing he'll improve, according to Miami Heat beat writer Tim Reynolds:
More LeBron: "I guarantee I'll be better."— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 12, 2013
Lastly, LeBron had this to say about just how rough a night it was, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:
"As dark as it was last night, it can't get darker than that, " LeBron said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 12, 2013
Honest, introspective, accountable and now an optimist? It doesn't get any better than this for LeBron.
Actually, that's not true. Hopefully it does get better for LeBron—on the court, at least. Otherwise, the Heat are headed nowhere fast.