MIAMI -- With six simple words, LeBron James explained the philosophy behind the way he now plays the game.
"I've done more and lost before."
Such was the response to a question presented to him Saturday -- one day before he and the Miami Heat take on the San Antonio Spurs and try to even the NBA Finals at a game apiece -- about the perception that he needs to be more aggressive at times. It was almost as though he was waiting for such a query, because he had his answer at the ready.
In short, James has put up awesome numbers in past playoffs but never got the awesome result he sought for nearly a decade until last season, when he and the Heat won a title.
"When I was in Cleveland, we played Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals and I think I averaged 38, 36, or whatever I averaged," James said, referring to the 2009 series where he averaged 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and eight assists. "I guess I should have done more in that series as well. But I can't. ... I do what's best for the team. What's best for the team, it doesn't always result in a win."
Case in point: Orlando won that series in six games.
Case in point again: James had a triple-double, one of the longtime gold standards in defining an outstanding all-around basketball game, in Game 1 of these Finals against the Spurs -- an 18-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist effort. But it came in a loss in which he took only 16 shots, so the second-guessing was predictable and prevalent.
And on Saturday, James' style of play got defended -- not just by those on his side, but also by the guy leading the other side.
"He's a grown man," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He doesn't need any of you to tell him anything. He knows more than all of you put together. He understands the game. If he makes a pass and you all think he should have shot it, or he shoots it and you think he should have made a pass, your opinions mean nothing to him, as they should not mean anything to him."
James will be judged by history when he leaves the game. But for now, he's often judged against his own history.
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