PHOENIX — The world will almost certainly never see LeBron James participate in an official NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest.
Still, that doesn't mean he's given up slamming for show.
Monday, after practice broke in the Suns' gym, James and Michael Beasley engaged in a battle in front of about 20 media members, plus staffers and teammates, with many of the latter—including Dwyane Wade—taking video.
James took off from just inside the free-throw line a few times, but he also got a bit more creative, throwing the ball off the side wall, catching it on the bounce and hammering it down. Not every attempt was executed, but teammates were impressed. Greg Oden shook his head and smiled: "That looked normal...but that was nice."
After about 15 minutes, many of James' teammates headed for the bus, while James and Wade did their interviews next to each other.
When it was suggested that they looked relaxed, Wade shook his head.
"You guys should have been here in the beginning of practice," Wade said. "It wasn't relaxed."
"Yeah, it wasn't relaxed at all," James chimed in. "That was the end."
"Yeah, that was the end," Wade said. "But coach challenged us, and I thought we responded by having a great-intensity practice today, very focused. And once he saw that, he called it in. And then after that, the guys got to let their hair down a little bit. That's one thing about this team, no matter what you want to call us, 'Hollywood as Hell,' we work. And that's what we did today."
And then James got loose.
"I get to see a lot of his dunk contests behind the scenes, and I've been amazed by a lot of the things he can do," Wade said. "I think, sometimes, too, if he does get in it, I think people are going to expect him to jump off an airline. I think the expectations are so high that it might be a small letdown as well. I mean, the man can fly. But Blake Griffin jumped over cars, so they're going to want LeBron James to jump over something else. So I think the window has passed from that standpoint."
So everyone will have to settle for these snippets.
Ethan Skolnick covers the Heat for Bleacher Report.