Heat's LeBron James before fifth career Finals appearance: Legacy talk is 'kind of stupid'
SAN ANTONIO — The Heat might be staring at a mile-long list of historical implications as they prepare for the 2014 Finals against the Spurs, but LeBron James sounds like he would prefer to just tune it all out for the time being.
The Heat are the first team since the Boston Celtics in the 1980s to advance to the Finals in four straight years, and they can become just the second team to three-peat during the post-Michael Jordan era, joining the 2000-2002 Lakers.
Meanwhile, James can claim the third title of his career, taking him halfway to Jordan's career total of six rings. James can also become only the third player ever to win three consecutive Finals MVP awards, joining Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal.
Want to dig even deeper? A 2014 championship would push James' overall Finals record to 3-2, putting him above .500 for the first time in his career. He would also be able to claim a 2-1 advantage over Tim Duncan in their personal Finals match-up.
On the eve of the Finals, though, James suggested to reporters that enough is enough when it comes to the incessant ranking and comparing.
"I play for my teammates, our team, the city of Miami, my friends, and family," James told reporters on Wednesday."Win, lose, or draw, I'm satisfied with that. I don't get involved in what people say about me and my legacy. I think it's actually kind of stupid."
One can understand James' frustration with the over-saturated coverage of his career's progress, particularly as it relates to Jordan, but he can't exactly absolve himself from having a role in feeding this beast. Indeed, James has said in recent years that he is driven by the goal to become the Greatest Of All Time, that he will "for sure" claim a place on the NBA's "Mount Rushmore" of all-time stars, and that he enjoyed his "MJ moment" by hitting a late jumper during Game 7 of the 2013 Finals against the Spurs.
"It's bitterly disappointing to fall short of our goals, and it's bitterly disappointing to lose to this team three years in a row," Vogel said. "But we're competing against the Michael Jordan of our era, the Chicago Bulls of our era."
James said Wednesday that Vogel's comments were "very humbling" and that being mentioned in "the same breath as Michael Jordan ... let's me know that I've done something right so far."
Still, losing in the Finals would carry some ramifications, namely that James would drop to a 2-3 career Finals record and that he would have two Finals losses during his prime years (at age 26 in 2011 and at age 29 this year). Jordan, of course, went a perfect 6-0 in the Finals and never needed a Game 7 to do it. Should the Heat lose this year, James might be officially conceding the, "Was MJ or LeBron more dominant at their respective peaks?" question.
Nevertheless, James says he feels no added pressure or burden as Thursday's Game 1 against the Spurs approaches.
"I put no pressure on this Finals," he said. "I don't really care what people say about me or how people categorize my so-called legacy, or the way they think I should be. I play this game at a high level and put myself in the position to help our team succeed."
James averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.6 steals this season, and he finished second in the MVP voting to Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant. The 11-year veteran was selected to his 10th straight All-Star Game and he was named to the All-NBA first team for the seventh straight year. James was also an All-Defensive second team selection, marking the sixth straight year he's received a defensive honor.
"My legacy will speak for itself after I'm done playing," James said. "To be in this position to win a third straight [title], it's a blessing. I couldn't ask for more. This is an opportunity for me to do what I always wanted to do and that's to continue to win championships. That's what I'm here for."