King: yes. Deity: no.
Heat forward LeBron James, dubbed "The Chosen One" on a Sports Illustrated cover while still a junior in high school, confirmed that he is a mere mortal during a post-game press conference following a 97-93 loss to the Pacers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday night.
How did this possibly come up? Well, George Hill was asked if there is anything more dangerous than the thought of James with the ball in his hands at the top of the key with the game on the line.
"It's only like one person that’s more scarier than that and that's God," Hill said. "I'm sure if we were looking at Him in the face we would be very nervous. I'm sure He could make all the plays that we want people to make. LeBron is a great player, he's the MVP for a reason, he's one of the best to ever play this game. He's a big focal point. We know that when he's up there probing the floor and looking at everything that we can't just focus on him, we have to focus on the people around him, because he's a great play-maker. He has our full attention."
Told of the comparison, James demurred, pointing to his two costly turnovers in the game's final minute.
"I'm nowhere near close," he said. "I made two mistakes tonight that hurt our team. That hurt more than anything, to let my teammates down. They expect me to make plays down the stretch. I had the ball with the opportunity to make a couple of plays and I came up short. That burns, but the best thing about it is that this isn't college. It's not one loss and you're done. I'll have another opportunity to get better in Game 3."
Hill's quote recalled a famous line from Celtics forward Larry Bird, who complimented Bulls guard Michael Jordan for lighting up Boston Garden to the tune of 63 points in Chicago's 135-131 double-overtime loss in Game 2 of a 1986 first-round playoff series.
"I didn't think anyone was capable of doing what Michael has done to us," Bird said, according to NBA.com. "He is the most exciting, awesome player in the game today. I think it's just God disguised as Michael Jordan."
In Game 1, James blew by Hill for a layup that set up his game-winning, buzzer-beating drive past Paul George. In Game 2, James finished with a game-high 36 points (on 14-for-20 shooting), eight rebounds, three assists and three steals in 45 minutes. He also tallied a game-high five turnovers. The Heat and Pacers are now tied at one game apiece. Game 3 is set for Sunday in Indiana.