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September 27, 2016 | 9:55 am EDT Update
Now that LeBron James has won a championship for the ages, he’s set a loftier goal: Catching Michael Jordan. Long flattered to be mentioned in the same company with Jordan and other NBA legends, James has been hesitant to publicly acknowledge that he wants to be remembered as the greatest in league history. It’s time now. “It’s a personal goal,” James told The Associated Press on Monday. “I just never brought it up. It’s my own personal goal to be able to be greater than great. I think that should be everybody’s personal goal.”
2 hours ago via AP
James entered the league along with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, close friends he has hinted at playing with before hanging it up. For now, they are becoming some of the game’s elder statesmen, a fact accented by a larger patch of gray in James’ beard. “We’re next up in line,” he said. “We’ve given the game all we can give. We’re the next crew, so it definitely makes you reflect on everything and you don’t take anything for granted. I never do, but in my career I’ve always been like, ‘Man, this is an unbelievable moment I’ve been put in.’ I try to give as much as I can. But we on deck.” James’s next challenge is one he’s faced before — to repeat. It’s all new to the Cavaliers, who have never been on top and could suffer from a post-championship hangover. James has seen it happen, and he’ll do all he can so it won’t happen this season. He’s going to make the Cavs keep their edge. “I’m just as hungry as I was before,” he said. “It’s like I haven’t won. The natural, human nature would be to relax. But you work so hard and then you see what the result is. Why not have that feeling again?”
2 hours ago via AP
“I don’t want to go out there and play upset with everybody else,” Durant said. “I want to play my game, and enjoy the game of basketball like I’ve always been enjoying it, and everything else will work itself out.” After spending a season turning every slight into motivation, Golden State no longer has to be consumed with silencing or flipping off every detractor. “You can remember the experiences, but you can’t let that affect your mind, like how you prepare yourself going into this year,” Curry said. “How the Finals ended, it obviously did not go our way, it didn’t go my way. What are you going to do about it? What’s next? That’s all I really think about. I never got too wrapped up in the praise, either. It’s obviously a much better feeling, but I never feed off of that, because it doesn’t change how I play. It doesn’t change who I am. Criticism just … you hear it, having a human emotional reaction to it and because of how you channel it, you move on.”
Two of the team’s more iconic players, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, no longer are around. Dragic, along with Udonis Haslem and Hassan Whiteside, will be asked to lead a team with much more youth than before. “It’s not the prettiest situation right now,” Dragic said Monday from the Heat’s media day. “Still, we’re professionals, we need to clear our heads and have more focus, one goal in our heads, to get better as a team, to get to know each other and try to build that chemistry we’re going to need for the season.”
Storyline: Chris Bosh Health
“I need to step in, be more vocal, be a leader,” he said. “We still got UD, we got Beno (Udrih), Josh McRoberts. We still got some experienced guys that I think is a good mix with the young guys. “CB is not with us, D-Wade is not with us. It’s a lot of minutes. Somebody is going to have to take those minutes. I’m confident, Tyler (Johnson) he’s going to step in. Josh Richardson, (Justise) Winslow had and unbelievable rookie season. I think we’ll be okay.”
Entering his sixth season, Thomas sounded like a seasoned veteran in discussing the changes he’s made in his eating habits and sleeping pattern as he aims to extend his career to the age of 40. “I changed my diet,” Thomas said. “I hired a personal chef back home, and I’m eating vegetables for the first time since when my dad used to make me. I eliminated fast food. You guys have heard it before — I want to play until I’m 40, and I know it starts with little things like that. Last week I got in contact with Dr. Z [Charles Czeisler] over there at Harvard, the ‘Sleep Doctor.’ I’m trying to learn how to sleep longer and sleep more. Not only am I going to eat healthier, I’m going to get a lot of sleep. Instead of watching TV and playing video games, I have to learn to get more sleep. That will help me be a better basketball player. Those are the little things I am trying to figure out. The older I get, the more I’m trying to figure those little things out to be a better basketball player. It’s not all on the court.”
But Riley said a plan of “succession” is needed: “I think that’s important. I want to make sure that Micky is comfortable with everything before I make that decision. We’ve had a discussion about that. And when you’re 71 years old you have a right to talk about that with you boss. “I’m not going to leave this damn thing until we have the right people running it. I think I could right now and there would still be the right people running it. But I think we’re one person short probably. The one that knows as much as that game out there as he does about this stuff right here.”
Storyline: Heat Front Office