LeBron James joked “not 11, not 12, not 13, not 14″ when asked if he was satisfied during Miami Heat Media Day Monday. This was just one moment from an excited James, who was rested, optimistic and ready to get on with the 2013-2014 NBA season.
He was focused on the the regular season, not the summer after.
“I think for me, being the leader of this team, I owe it this organization and owe it to my team not to deal with this. I’m not going to address it. Once we get to that point I’ll address it, but I don’t think we need to talk about it right now,” James said in regards to his pending free agency if he were to opt out as expected.
He said things might be different if the Heat were a “young ball club,” but with Wade and Bosh facing similar circumstances, Allen coming off a free agent offseason a year ago and many other veteran players in the locker room, he feels that he does not need to address the situation. At least not in public.
The goal, of course, is to win a third championship. The key, as everyone knows, will be health.
“When we are healthy we can compete with anyone,” James said. “If we aren’t it’s gonna be tougher.”
That pretty much sums things up for the Heat. As James acknowledged, they were not always healthy in the playoffs, but still managed to win two titles in three seasons. To be more specific, the worry of many outside the organization is the health of guard Dwyane Wade, who James said looks as healthy as he did during the first year they were together in Miami.
“When I hear ‘healthy Dwyane Wade,’ I get excited,” James said.
Speaking on behalf of a veteran clubhouse, James said that the team can’t take any short cuts to get to April, that they have to play in October and November and accept the process that is the regular season.
“To win a championship is our goal, but that’s our long term goal. The short term goal is to improve each month.”
But that process should become tougher due to an improved Eastern Conference. The Indiana Pacers are a year older and with added pieces like Luis Scola and a healthy Danny Granger. The Chicago Bulls get Derrick Rose back. The Brooklyn Nets made moves to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. James also mentioned the Washington Wizards, who many believe can compete for a playoff spot (though have been ruffled by injuries).
“It will be tougher and that’s the way you want it. This is the ultimate,” James said. “We should thrive in it.”
The Heat expect to be a better team next season, too, and some of that has to do with the additions of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley — two big bodies that should help this team come playoff time.
James acknowledged that both Oden and Beasley were incredibly talented coming out of college but have not lived up to expectations. He said that part of his role as a leader of the team was to help them prove that they can not only help the Heat, but can play in the NBA at a high level.
James is well known for improving specific aspects of his game, a practice that has been adapted by many of his peers in the NBA.
What did he work on this summer?
“I will not reveal how I got better. I did get better.” James said. “I’m a better basketball player than I was the year before and I feel very confident and comfortable in my game right now.”
Many believe James will try to improve his free throw percentage. James has never shot better than 80 percent in a single season from the line. Last season, he shot 75.3 percent, his worst percentage in five seasons. James said he hopes to get to 78 to 80 percent.
Rested, married and ready to go, James is goal oriented this season and seems to have a task list. His wedding and offseason have been checked off. Training camp is next. Then comes the regular season, when he will check off every month until, hopefully, April. Then comes the summer of free agency.
What is the bigger picture? Everyone knows that.
“I want to be the greatest of all time. It’s that simple. But it’s not simple.”