LeBron James compared fighting former coach Eric Spoelstra and the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals to playing a game of chess.
The LA Lakers star was asked about the challenge of taking on his former team in the 2020 Finals, shortly after his team lost 107-113 to the Heat on Sunday. Here’s what ‘King James’ had to say about it during the post-game press conference (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“I knew it would probably be one of the most mentally challenging sets of games because they (Miami Heat) know me and I know them well. Or I know Spo (Spoelstra) and Spo knows me so well.”
“I knew he would try to take everything I do right from me. I was just trying to get into his mind about what he wanted to do to help his team win a championship and it was kind of like playing chess.”
LeBron James won the first of his four NBA championships when he played under Eric Spoelstra for the Miami Heat in 2012. The player-coach duo won two championships together and made four consecutive Finals appearances during James’ time in South Beach.
The two faced each other for the first time in a playoff scenario during the 2020 NBA Finals. James coincidentally won the “chess” as he led the Lakers to their record 17th NBA title, beating Spoelstra’s side in six games.
LeBron James’ Lakers lose for fifth time in seven games after defeat to Miami Heat
LeBron James and the LA Lakers took another embarrassing loss when they faced the Miami Heat on Sunday. The Lakers struggled on defense for most of the game, forcing Jimmy Butler and co. to take a 26-point lead halfway through the third quarter.
LA tried to get back into the game by reducing the Miami Heat’s lead to just four points with just under a minute left in the final quarter. However, a misplaced incoming pass from Talen Horton-Tucker took the opportunity away from the Lakers. They failed to capitalize on their efforts in the fourth quarter and failed to complete the turnaround to take a surprise win.
The Lakers once again had to rely on LeBron James to put in a positive result. The 37-year-old registered his 21st 30-point game of the season, with 33 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals. He shot an efficient 54.2% of the field on 22 attempts and converted eight of his 11 free throws.
Russell Westbrook (24 points) and Avery Bradley (15 points) were the only other players besides James to play somewhat efficiently. The Lakers are now down to 23-24 for the campaign.
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Frank Vogel’s side will be looking for a turnaround with Anthony Davis likely to return from injury against the Brooklyn Nets in their next game on Tuesday.