"Last year," he says, "I didn't win, and I had no happiness."
There are many moments to savor over the course of an NBA season — comeback victories, staggering scoring totals, box scores with big numbers neatly aligned.
LeBron James has had them all. And, yet, it is as if he has nothing. It is a reality not even an anticipated third NBA Most Valuable Player award will change.
He is, to a degree, living out Eminem's "Lose Yourself":
"If you had one shot, or one opportunity,
"To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
"Would you capture it or just let it slip?"
NBA finals: Heat def. Thunder 4-1
Winderman: LeBron James has been a prodigy, superstar and villain. And now he's champion. The journey has left the league and Finals MVP humbled and happy for those closest to him.
Just as it did against the San Antonio Spurs while with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now there is only one correct answer, one that has to come in the final game of the Finals. Amid rapture.
Or else there again only will be despair.
No other player in the league plays to these stakes, not champions such as Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki, who already have carved championship legacies. Not MVP rivals such as Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, who still have the grace period of maturing into their moment.
Even in this Heat locker room, the heaviness sits only at one locker. Dwyane Wade already has his championship. Chris Bosh never entered the NBA with a championship mandate.
It is a solitary existence.
And yet, embraced.
"That's what I prepare for," LeBron says quietly, surprisingly accepting of the line of questioning, rather than annoyed with the redundancy.
"I prepare every day to hoist that trophy up for me and my teammates," he says. "I mean, I've faced a lot of pressure my whole life. Even where I come from, I was always a statistic of maybe not making it out, things like that.
"So I understand the fishbowl that I'm in. But I can only satisfy myself and my teammates. I can't worry about what everyone else says."
And that's what all too often is lost. This is not an external pressure, but one from within. Arguably the greatest player in the game today to a degree views himself as a failure.
"For me, that's my goal, that's my ultimate goal, is to win a championship," he says. "And it isn't because of what everybody else says or what everybody else thinks of my career or anything like that."
It is because of the weight he has carried since last June.
"It's because," he says, "I felt like I let my teammates down and let myself down."
Wade says he sees it almost every day.
"He wants to win more than anybody," Wade says.
The heaviness is ever-present.
PBT: San Antonio found what worked and it’s on the Grizzlies to raise their level enough in Game 2 in San Antonio on Tuesday to get a split in the series.
PBT: The Pacers were too tough for the Knicks, but Miami is a different animal. The clubs face off in the East finals, starting Wednesday night.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
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The Crossover: Lakers forward Metta World Peace gives the world of meteorology a try as he fills in at a local weather station. Let’s just say he has an interesting way of giving the forecast. Also, in Boston there is a bathroom that has rival team’s logos inside the urinal in the men’s room.
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