DALLAS — Miami Heat superstar LeBron James said before Tuesday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks that he has no plans to watch his taped delayed interview with NBA TV last week in which he revealed his Mount Rushmore of NBA greats.
However, when asked his reactions to Mavericks swingman Shawn Marion’s comments following shoot around Tuesday morning in which he said James doesn’t belong on pro basketball’s version of Mount Rushmore because, “There’s a lot of guys who have done a lot more than he has done,” James was forthright with reporters, saying, among other things, “I’m focused on bigger and better things.”
In a nationally-televised interview that aired Monday night, James said that by the time his career ends, he would be considered one the top four players to ever play the game and that he should have a spot on the Mount Rushmore of NBA legends. Consequently, the four-time league Most Valuable Player was asked to reveal his personal Mount Rushmore, or whom he believed was the four greatest players of all time.
James quickly uttered what he deemed the “easy three,” which included Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. After pausing momentarily, he named Oscar Robertson as his fourth choice, a development that apparently offended Hall of Famer and 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell, who addressed James directly about the subject before Sunday’s All-Star Game in New Orleans. While James reiterated that his comments on NBA TV were misinterpreted, he didn’t refute his statements in which he said he would be amongst the NBA’s finest when he calls it career.
To his credit, the 29-year-old James demonstrated once again Tuesday why many have labeled him the best basketball player in the world. James scorched the Mavericks with a season-high 42 points on 16-of-23 shooting to lift the Heat to their straight win, 117-106, before 20,461 witnesses in American Airlines Center.
“I don’t care what people say or what people think,” James said in response to Marion’s comments. “That’s not my concern because I think once again it was blown out of context. But I feel like when it’s all said and done, one of my personal goals is to be one of the greatest who can ever play this game. And I won’t sell myself short, and I won’t stop and continue saying and thinking what I believe. So it doesn’t matter what Shawn Marion or anybody else says about the way I play the game of basketball.”
Asked if Marion’s remarks will serve as bulletin board material as he aims to guide the Heat to a third consecutive NBA crown, James, who is seeking his third world championship, said, “No, I don’t need bulletin board material. My bullentin material is the name on the back of my jersey and the name on the front of my jersey and the youth and kids I inspire everyday, every time I go out on the basketball court. And I witnessed that Saturday when I had my foundation event in New Orleans, when I was able to give back to the Boys and Girls Clubs with about 30 to 35 or 40 kids smiling by my presence being there.
“And I can understand my calling is much bigger than basketball,” James, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, continued. “So when everyone else is focusing on basketball, I’m focused on bigger and better things.”
Of course, the 10-time All-Star and two-time reigning league MVP couldn’t resist ending his pregame interview session without bringing reporters to laughs by taking a jab at those who sense he doesn’t belong on the Mount Rushmore of NBA greats.
“No one can guard me one-on-one,” James said.
With a straight face.