Posted by Royce Young
MIAMI -- They make sure to give the appearance of fun all the time. The joking, laughing, ahem, celebrating -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat try to enjoy themselves despite all the negative attention.
But it's not always good times.
"There's been times where we probably where we went through stages and didn't have fun with the game," Dwyane Wade said. "We've had fun, we haven't had fun. We've celebrated, we haven't celebrated, whatever the case may be."
LeBron jumped in. "Should you have said that?" he said, tongue firmly in cheek.
"There's three days left in the season, I don't [care]," Wade responded.
LeBron: "Well, it might get blown out of proportion."
Maybe it wasn't intentional, but the two clearly had a little fun right there in that exchange. But with the way the team has been hammered constantly with negative media attention and an eye on their every move, it would be natural to think that this whole thing might've had some of the joy sucked out of it.
That stuff though, the outside stuff, isn't what has really affected LeBron though. He repeatedly said he was prepared for it and understands that it comes with the territory. To his credit, he's never complained about what's been thrown at him. He takes it, and moves on. What gets to him is when things aren't going well on the court.
"Losing is never fun of course," he said. "Honestly the way we've gotten to this point in our career is by having fun with the game of basketball. I've always said once the game stopped being fun, there's no reason for me to be out on the court. That's the way I've always approach the game on and off the court."
That "fun" they have had though, seems to be what gets them in hot water at times. The so-called celebration in Game 2 that supposedly sparked a major Mavs comeback. The coughing incident before Game 5. Those are moments where it's kind of just boys will be boys, but have clearly backfired on the team. It's really just LeBron and Wade being themselves and trying to have a good times while playing a game -- remember these are grown men dribbling a ball while running around in shorts and tanktops -- but because of the situation, it's perceived as arrogance and ego.
What they do probably lack is a bit more self-awareness. Wade said yesterday that the coughing thing was just mean to be a prank on the media to see if they'd blow it up. Mission accomplished, he said. But not understanding the distraction that causes and how that sort of thing just piles on to the mountain is what frustrates people. They might just be having fun with stuff, but sometimes you've got to act like an adult, like a businessman.
Both LeBron and Wade have done their best to always keep perspective on their situation. Basketball is fun. That's why they play it. That's why they put in all this work. But like LeBron said, losing isn't fun. It's the opposite of fun. When he had to watch the Spurs celebrate a title on his home floor in Cleveland in 2007, he summed it up simply saying, "It sucked."
And if Dallas finishes out the Heat in Miami tonight and LeBron has to watch another team dance on his home floor, there will definitely be no joy in South Beach.