Heat's LeBron James talks about 2012, what's ahead


Heat's LeBron James talks about 2012, what's ahead

MIAMI (AP) Pat Riley has a theory why LeBron James' journey to basketball's mountaintop took so long.

Growth, he said, takes time.

``I always use the analogy of the Chinese bamboo tree,'' said the Miami Heat president. ``You plant the seed in the ground and it just sits there and 10 years later it grows 100 feet in one year. Over the 10 years, there's a root structure and a taproot that is growing deeper and deeper and deeper and is embedded in the ground. And when that thing starts growing, it ain't going anywhere but up.''

That is, much like James did in 2012.

It was practically a year beyond compare. James got his first NBA championship, was the league's MVP for the third time, a unanimous choice as MVP of the NBA Finals, and collected a second Olympic gold medal. And in perhaps the last marquee moment of his year, James and the Heat play host to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, a Finals rematch on Christmas.

James will be center stage with the Heat-Thunder showdown part of the NBA's Christmas slate of nationally televised games including: The Boston Celtics vs. the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks against the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets taking on the Chicago Bulls and the Denver Nuggets squaring off against the Los Angeles Clippers.

And there are some sensational story lines around all those games.

But no NBA player did anything in 2012 that matched what James put together.

No longer uncomfortable with the fallout for the way he exercised his right in 2010 to choose his own future, he enjoyed a year loaded with triumphs. James allowed himself to be in the public eye more, heard booing in most road arenas return to normal levels and insists he's as content as ever.

``I'm driven,'' James said, ``by something greater.''

He has money. He would figure to contend for several more championships if he remains healthy. He has enormous fame. He is on top of his game and in his prime. The 27-year-old James is averaging 25.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists and the Heat are leading the Eastern Conference with an 18-6 record.

What's left is legacy, him attempting to ensure he truly becomes one of the greatest.

``You look at some of the greatest companies,'' James said. ``As great as McDonald's is, they don't stop. As great as Nike is, they don't stop. They keep trying to be innovative and make new, great things for consumers. They don't stop. They could. They've got enough. I look at that as well, as motivation. I want to keep getting better. I want to put myself in position to maximize every little thing that I have.''

That starts with putting himself out there more now.

A few weeks ago, James decided to join some friends for an evening bike ride. They pedaled about 20 miles that evening, an outing that proved James has completed a much longer journey.

That night, without any trepidation, James was part of a group of 3,000 people who strapped on helmets and rode through Miami in an effort to promote safety and awareness for bicyclists.

``Two years ago,'' James said, ``I don't know if I would have been ready for that.''

There's no way he would have been ready for that. Not after The Decision and the criticism and all that came with it, part of what he now calls his transformation from the person he was to the person he is.

Turns out, they're nearly the same, although today's version may have just wrapped up one of the best years by any athlete.

``He's still hungry and thirsty for more,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ``And I think that's what separates the great ones and the ultimate competitors. He came off of a historic year, able to win the MVP and crown it with the ultimate team goal. ... He wants to continue to reinvent himself, get better and drive this team, push this team for a bigger legacy than just a one-title team.''

James recently starred in a commercial for Samsung, one of many companies that pay him for endorsements. This particular spot, though, was more like a snapshot of James' life, in that it was as genuine as any ad he's ever done.

There's no actors in the primary roles - his fiancee, his friends, his children, his barber, his teammates, even the kids from the LeBron James Family Foundation, they're all playing themselves in the spot. Two years ago, James never would have asked any of them to be part of an ad campaign, simply to spare them from potential scorn.

That's no longer a problem.

``I wanted to be real,'' James said. ``I wanted to go out and say, `This is who I am' and I wanted to do it in commercial form. It's a commercial, but it's also actuality. There's nothing fake about it. I was blessed that we were able to put it together the right way, the way we actually envisioned it.''

Funny how those words now apply to what the Heat did in 2010.

They signed James and Chris Bosh, kept Dwyane Wade, added pieces around them and - albeit a year later than they planned - became NBA champions. When that moment came, when James knew his wait to become a champion was at last about to end, the first thing he did was bury his head in Bosh's chest, trying not to cry.

James often says he is ``humbled'' by awards or praise. Never did he feel more humble in 2012.

His first act of the year - moments after midnight on Jan. 1 - was proposing to girlfriend Savannah Brinson. The way James sees it, that move on bended knee set the tone for everything else to fall into place.

``Can you propose twice?'' James asked. ``Can I do that again to get another year like this?''

He can't. But he would.

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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

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