OAKLAND, Calif. – With the NBA All-Star break on deck and a long flight to New Orleans potentially on hold, LeBron James was thinking either win or bust – not overtime – when he hit his dramatic game-winning shot.
James hit a 27-foot, step back game-winning 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left en route to the Miami Heat's dramatic 111-110 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. The contest was James' and the Heat's last prior to the All-Star break in New Orleans. James finished with a near triple-double of 36 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists and added to his long list of dramatic big shots.
"I was going for the win the whole time," James said. "I just wanted to make sure I made it with no time left or I missed it with no time left. That was my only mindset. It was a big shot."
Said Warriors coach Mark Jackson: "We witnessed greatness. A special player and an all-time great who made a big shot."
James hit a game-winning 18-foot jumper over Golden State while with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 24, 2009 that he said, "was almost the same spot." And who could forget the big game-winning 3-pointer he hit in Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference finals against the Orlando Magic?
So was Wednesday's game-winner against the Warriors the best of James' career?
"It's up there. Just the circumstances of the game, to be able to come through for my teammates, I always want to come through for them," James said. "Obviously, I'm not going to be able to deliver to them every time. But to be able to deliver to them [Wednesday night] meant everything to send those guys into the All-Star break on the right note."
Of course, once James hits New Orleans, the focus will shift from the past to his future. Specifically, James figures to be bombarded during the NBA All-Star media session on Friday with questions about whether he'll opt out of his contract with the Heat to become a free agent this summer.
James is slated to make $20.5 million next season and $22.5 million for the 2015-16 season if he stays in Miami. While the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player has offered little on the subject this season, he left the door open to potentially shedding some light on the topic in New Orleans.
"I don't know. We will see how I'm feeling on Friday," James said Wednesday. "We'll see how I'm feeling."
James, making his 10th All-Star appearance, said a "big part" of him wishes he could rest instead during the All-Star break, but he also said he doesn't take it for granted being either.
"I understand I have a responsibility to hold to be one of the marquee guys in this league, be one of the faces of this league," James said. "It's a responsibility for me to own on and off the floor. I carry that with a lot of responsibility."
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