June 19, 2014
By TIM REYNOLDS
LeBron James is leaving.
For a family vacation, that is.
The Miami Heat star said that’s his first order of business, and during the time away from basketball he’ll start the process of moving past this season and looking toward the future.
“I just want to win. That’s all that matters to me,” James said June 17 after emerging from the final team meeting, one where coach Erik Spoelstra urged his team take plenty of pride from the season, even though the end result was an NBA Finals loss to San Antonio. "I haven’t even begun to even think about what my future holds or what I have in store. I will sit down with my team at some point, my family as well. Today definitely wasn't the day.
“If my family is happy, then I’m happy and able to perform at a high level.”
If so, then they’ve been happy during his first four years in Miami: James has been to the NBA Finals all four seasons in which he’s played for the Heat, capturing two championships, and no one in the league over that span has logged more minutes, made more field goals or won more games than the four-time MVP.
James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all become free agents, though none have made decisions on whether they’ll opt out. They came together amid much fanfare in 2010, and this summer might be similar in many ways for that trio, the Heat and the NBA as a whole — with all eyes on what they’ll do.
“I feel more at ease this time,” James said, adding that “2010, it was out of control. It was the craziest summer I’ve ever been a part of. ... I’m definitely in a better place right now even though in 2010 I got put out in the postseason earlier than I expected or didn’t accomplish what I wanted to, and I have kind of the same feeling now.”
James said that at some point, he, Wade and Bosh will gather to talk about their plans. They have until June 29 to inform the Heat whether they will exercise their rights to become free agents — moves that in all three cases would not prohibit them from returning to Miami. Bosh revealed Tuesday that the group will meet with Heat president Pat Riley as well, to get the team’s vision for what next season's roster would look like.
“I’m sure Riley has a finite plan moving forward,” Bosh said. “I guess it kinds of really starts with him, just listening to him, kind of get his feel for the situation. He’ll plug ’em wherever something is needed.”
The basketball court was still in place inside Miami’s arena on Tuesday, but there will be no game there until next season. Game 6 of the NBA Finals would have been Tuesday night and for the first time since 2011, the Heat were saying goodbyes to one another without the backdrop of a championship parade.
“There’s not a whole lot you can say that's going to alleviate some of the pain and frustration that we’re all feeling right now,” Spoelstra said. “We understand why our team was built. There’s high expectations. And with that when you don’t get to where you want to go, there’s sometimes that pain that’s deep.”
Spoelstra said he’s concentrating more on the draft right now than mourning the end of the season, or getting ready for free agency.
“We have a couple weeks to figure it out,” Spoelstra said. “We have a great track record. And we have a championship, first-class organization. That is our best selling pitch.”
James said he didn’t need to hear what Miami has to offer. He already knows.
“I understand what this team and this franchise brings to the table,” James said.
In the coming weeks, he’ll have a better sense on whether if he’ll need to go grab a seat somewhere else to win more championships.
“That’s what Riles is so great at and obviously Spo’s going to get into it and see guys who can help us get better,” James said. “Every team in the NBA continues to get better every year and we need to get better as well. We have some holes that need to be filled.”