Fair or unfair, that's the deal. A title is the season's only goal.
"I think LeBron is having a historic season and he's doing it on so many different levels," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who's admittedly biased though insists he's trying to remain objective. "The responsibility that he has to shoulder is really unlike any player that's played. For us to be successful, yes, it goes without saying he has to have an MVP-caliber season. But more importantly he has to utilize every bit of his versatility."
Just four players will finish this season averaging at least 25 points and five rebounds per game, the others being Minnesota's Kevin Love, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant. Of those, James is the only one averaging at least five assists, making his statline for the season seems ordinary for him and extraordinary for anyone else.
Since James entered the NBA nine years ago, there's been 14 instances of someone averaging 25 points, five rebounds and five assists. He's done it eight times, two more than the rest of the league combined.
"He's a beast," Houston rookie Chandler Parsons said. "He's different than everyone else."
Yet when those in the Heat locker room start touting James' MVP candidacy, it's not those numbers that they say sets him apart. They all point to his defense, with good reason. James has guarded everyone from Derrick Rose to Pau Gasol this season, using speed to stop some, strength to stop others, and doing it while averaging only 1.5 fouls per game — the lowest for anyone in the league averaging at least 36 minutes of court time per night.
A typical game for James means playing four positions on offense, and guarding at least that many on the other end.
"He brought it every single night," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. "Rain, sleet or snow, injured, healthy, whatever the situation may be, he brought it every single night."
The question now becomes how James can carry it over to a title run.
He sounds almost apologetic when the conversation turns to what his family will endure at this time of year. A few days ago, James was out of bed early enough to drive his sons to school around 7:45 a.m., a time of day that isn't exactly popular with those on the NBA body clock. Soon, he'll enter what he calls playoff mode. In short, it's all-consuming.
"It's very tough for them, because that's the only thing I care about at that point," James said. "That's not saying I don't care about my family's happiness then — of course not. But the No. 1 goal is the playoffs and each game and working our habits. I become a totally different person. And they know that. I'm kind of hard to work with throughout the playoffs because that's all I care about."
That's all anyone cares about when it comes to LeBron James.
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