MIAMI // LeBron James cannot currently envision a scenario where he leaves the Miami Heat this summer, though he still plans to assess his needs and his future at the end of the season.
James made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with NBA TV. The Heat star can choose to become a free agent after this season by exercising an option in the contract he signed when he arrived in Miami during the summer of 2010.
Asked by interviewer Steve Smith if he can picture himself being anywhere else, James did not seem to hesitate before answering.
“At this point, I can’t,” James said. “At this point, I can’t. We don’t know what can happen from now to July, so what I’ve been able to do this whole season to this point is just worry about what’s at hand and that’s winning another championship. And hopefully at the end of this year I can put myself in a position where I can hold that Larry O’Brien Trophy up once again and then I will assess what I have to do with my future after that.”
James discussed several topics in the interview, including what his current sources of motivation are, ways he thinks his game can still improve, how he handles expectations, the struggles of his first season in Miami and his background growing up in Akron, Ohio.
Some of his most telling comments revolved around the fallout that came after the Heat lost to Dallas in the 2011 NBA Finals. James has often told the story about how he spent the next two weeks in near isolation, completely overcome by the disappointment of losing the title series.
In the interview, James also revealed how he started to get past that loss, saying that Heat guard Dwyane Wade – with whom he clashed at times over roles on the team in that first season – urged him to join him in the Bahamas for a getaway.
“We had some great conversations there,” James said. “D-Wade was like, ‘Man, in order for us to be great you have to be the guy.”’
James said he was slightly taken aback by that.
“We’re talking about Wade County here,” James said, referring to what Miami-Dade County starting calling itself in Wade’s honor. “We’re talking about the man who won a championship here, who’s been a six-time All-Star, you want me to take the keys? And he said, ‘Absolutely.”’
With that, James said he left the villain role he played with that season in the Bahamas, came home and went into the gym to get started on the next season. The Heat have won two NBA titles since.
“I don’t play for what people expect for me to do anymore,” James said. “I want to be the greatest of all time and that’s just my mindset.”