LeBron James shrugs off criticism, vows to be ready for Game 2 of NBA Finals

LeBron James shrugs off criticism, vows to be ready for Game 2 of NBA Finals
LeBron James shrugs off criticism, vows to be ready for Game 2 of NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO – The two days since LeBron James limped out of the opening game of the 2014 NBA Finals with cramps have lacked neither intrigue, nor drama, for the sport's greatest player. "LeBroning," a social-media meme once used to mock James for flopping, went viral again to make fun of him for being carried off the court. Gatorade and former Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin took shots at James, who proclaimed himself the "easiest target in sports."

James will be back in uniform and on the court Sunday for Game 2 against the San Antonio Spurs, and this much is clear: The AT&T Center's air conditioning is expected to be blowing; and James and the Heat have proven especially resilient at bouncing back from adversity during their near-two-year reign as NBA champions.

Miami has won an NBA-record 12 straight playoff games following losses. The Heat haven't dropped consecutive postseason games since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.

"We have experienced it enough," James said. "Obviously we don't like experience in losses but it happens. We're able to bounce back, go to the film room, take account and not just bypass the mistakes we had in the previous game. And I think it's allowed us to move on and better ourselves for the next game."

James, for one, plans to be better. After succumbing to the heat caused by the arena's faulty air-conditioning system in Game 1, he spent the past two days recovering and should be completely healthy.

LeBron James was back on the court for the Heat's practice the day before Game 2. (AP)
LeBron James was back on the court for the Heat's practice the day before Game 2. (AP)

"I'm going to get some work done today, but there is no way to test my body for what I went through," James said. "The conditions are nowhere near extreme as they [were in Game 1]. Unless I decide to run from here to the hotel, that's the only way I would be able to test my body out.

"But I'm doing well, doing a lot better. The soreness is starting to get out. I'm feeling better than I did yesterday and with another day, I should feel much better [Sunday]."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra also is confident the arena won't have additional AC problems.

"We anticipate we will play in a very cool gym," Spoelstra said, smiling. "We will have to deal with that now. I don't know if guys will be wearing tights under their shorts and long sleeved shirts."

The Heat have not blamed the arena's humid climate for their loss in Game 1, even though James' absence obviously didn't help them. They led by seven in the fourth quarter and were in good position to take the series' opener and steal home-court advantage from the Spurs.

"We're a team who closes games out and we wasn't able to do that for whatever the reason may be," Dwyane Wade said. "That right there is what makes that loss more painful, but that's the thing that makes you focus and come back for the next one.

"We're not uptight, we're not overly loose. We're focused to come back and win the next one."

James, not surprisingly, will be the center of attention again. He's shrugged off the criticism lobbed at him the past couple of days – something he's grown accustomed to doing over the years.

"I've been in front of the camera and the camera has been in front of me since I was 15-years old," said James, who is now 29. "You guys have seen everything from me, from being an adolescent kid just playing the game of basketball because he loves it as a hobby, to now playing as a professional, to succeeding, going to the top, to falling off the mountain, to going up to the top again."

After slipping in Game 1, James will try to climb back up on Sunday. And he vows to be ready for anything the Spurs, the game and even the AT&T Center throw at him. Cramps included.

"Whatever I can give my teammates … if it happens again, hopefully I can make an impact while I'm on the floor and that's all that matters to me," he said. "I can live with the results. If I'm giving my all and playing as hard as I can, I'm putting my body and my mind on the line for us to win."

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