By Ben Golliver
The Knicks clocked the Heat 112-92 on Thursday night, pulling away in the fourth quarter to hand Miami its first home loss of the season.
LeBron James, who nearly had his second consecutive triple-double, didn't have much help. He showed a little bit of frustration with his teammates in the second half before reportedly letting off a little steam in an extended postgame workout and in brief comments to the media.
The Palm Beach Post reported the unusual locker room scene.
Or, as LeBron James put it after putting himself through a postgame workout — as if he, with 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists was the problem — “They kicked our a--. They have pretty much dominated us in two games.”
We’ve got work to do,” James said. “We can’t act like, OK, let’s just sweep this under the rug. We’ve got a lot of work to do. New York is a real team, they’ve got some real good players, and we understand that.”
Why did James work up a postgame sweat in the weight room?
“I’ve got to be better,” James said. “I’ve got to be better. It’s that simple. I’m here, and I’m the last one to leave.”
Of course, the idea of a postgame workout in Miami immediately calls to mind Kobe Bryant's taking shot after shot after the Heat beat the Lakers in a March 2011 game. It's hard to know exactly how these guys feel without walking a mile in their shoes, but the nervous energy that accompanies a disappointing loss for elite players must be unbearable. Exhausted by big minutes or not, it's reasonable to expect a professional athlete to exert himself physically to shake off the negative thoughts and refocus on the next step.
With both Bryant and James, there seems to be a "lead by example" element at work too. For James specifically, who is putting the finishing touches on a historic 2012, nothing less than the best is acceptable these days. The easiest way for him to ask more from his teammates -- and more is certainly needed, especially on the defensive end -- is to ask more from himself. James doesn't need to say much in this situation, and it sounds like he was fairly brief in his comments. Everyone in that Heat locker room is surely hearing his message loud and clear.