In this battle of “King James” and “The Servant,” LeBron James came out ahead of Kevin Durant, making an emphatic statement that the NBA MVP race may not be over yet.
James continued his rampage, one that drew headlines for his “Mount Rushmore” comments, in the latest meeting between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. James came busting out with Miami’s first 12 points and finished with 33 along with seven rebounds and four steals in Miami’s 103-81 victory in Oklahoma City. And he didn’t even finish the game. He took a blow to the nose from Serge Ibaka as he drove to the hoop late in the game and managed to complete his dunk before falling to the floor with a bloodied shnoz. James didn’t speak after the game, with a towel over his head and cotton up his nostrils. His performance (and his teammates) spoke about about the MVP thing.
“Oh, [the race] is not decided,” Dwyane Wade, who had 24 poins, said. “I don’t think it was a message. That’s LeBron James being LeBron James. … No, the MVP race is a long, long ways from over.”
Chris Bosh agreed.
“[Finishing the dunk] takes more than resolve,” Bosh, who 24 points and eight rebounds, said. “It takes extreme athleticism and strength. I mean that was Serge Ibaka going up with him. He got hit in the face, and then he goes up and still finishes. But he’s the best, biggest, strongest athlete in the league. Only he can do that.”
Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra would not say whether James’s nose was broken, telling reporters only that the team would “reevaluate him when we get back to Miami.”
“I’m like everybody else. You’re used to seeing him like Superman get up and sprint back, even after tough hits and tough falls,” Spoelstra said. “I knew something was up.”
Wade, in a TNT interview after the game, said he didn’t think the injury would keep James out long. “Biggest thing he said was, ‘Is it broke?’ ” Wade said. “But hopefully it’s not and he’ll be back.” By early Friday morning, James was feeling well enough to make a Bane joke.
BaneJames has a nice ring to it, but Adam Silver probably won’t approve the look.
Durant, who nicknamed himself “The Servant” last week, finished with 28 points — and five of the Thunder’s 20 turnovers. He’s still the MVP frontrunner, but only by a nose.