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LeBron: No extra meaning facing Heat in Finals after 'most challenging' run to NBA showpiece

By Sacha Pisani

Orlando, September 30: LeBron James insisted there would be no extra meaning should he win an NBA championship at the expense of former team the Miami Heat, while the Los Angeles Lakers superstar described reaching the Finals in the Orlando bubble as the "most challenging thing I've ever done".

James will make his 10th Finals appearance searching for his fourth title when the top-seeded Lakers and Heat meet in Game 1 at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday (September 30).

The four-time MVP's first two championships came during his time in Miami, where he reigned supreme with the Heat alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2012 and 2013, while he added another title via the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

"Absolutely not," James – preparing for his first Finals since joining the Lakers in 2018-19 – said when asked if winning the championship against Miami would carry any extra significance.

"It's no extra meaning to winning a championship, no matter who you're playing against. It's already hard enough to even reach the Finals, to be in this position. If you're able to become victorious out of the Finals, it doesn't matter who it's against.

"I'm just happy that I'm here with the opportunity to represent not only myself but represent our fans, our fan base, our organisation, my team-mates, our coaching staff, our training staff and so many others that represent this organisation to the utmost respect."

The Lakers, who returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, overcame the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets en route to the Finals in Orlando, Florida.

It has been a difficult situation behind closed doors inside the Orlando bubble due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2019-20 season was suspended in March before resuming in July without fans and with teams based at Walt Disney World Resort.

"It's probably been the most challenging thing I've ever done as far as a professional, as far as committing to something and actually making it through," said James, as the Lakers eye their first title since 2010. "But I knew when I was coming what we were coming here for.

"I would be lying if I sat up here and knew that everything inside the bubble, the toll that it would take on your mind and your body and everything else, because it's been extremely tough.

"But I'm here for one reason and one reason only, and that's to compete for a championship. That was my mindset once I entered the bubble, once I entered the quarantine process the first two days. Then right from my first practice, my mindset was - if I'm going to be here, make the most of it and see what you can do and lock in on what the main thing is. The main thing was for us to finish the season and compete for a championship.

"So that's just been my mindset throughout these -- I don't even know how many days it is. However many days it is, it feels like five years. So it really doesn't matter. I've been as locked in as I've ever been in my career."

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Story first published: Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 6:20 [IST]
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