James OK with seconds
DALLAS — When he signed with the Heat for the chance to compete for an NBA title, LeBron James made it clear that he was willing to accept being a second option.
The Heat were unquestionably Dwyane Wade’s team, and Wade has confirmed that with a dominant NBA Finals. In the first three games, Wade averaged 29 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5 assists while James was at 20.3, 6.7, and 6.0.
If Miami manages to win the series, Wade is the leading candidate for Most Valuable Player. James is completely comfortable with that, as long as he gets his hands on the Lawrence O’Brien Trophy.
In Games 2 and 3, James took his share of criticism — unfairly, in his eyes — for stepping back as Wade assumed the closing responsibilities.
“That’s ridiculous,’’ James said, before his worst performance of the series, an 8-point, nine-rebound effort in an 86-83 loss in Game 4 last night. “We’re here to win. That’s what it’s all about. Individual accolades take care of themselves. I got two MVP trophies sitting in my house back in Ohio and I haven’t won anything . . . I would trade in my two MVP trophies to have a ring. I don’t care about individual accolades to solidify myself to the NBA or whatever they are talking about. It’s ridiculous.’’
Barea gets start
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle decided on J.J. Barea, the former Northeastern standout, to replace DeShawn Stevenson in the starting lineup last night. The move was risky because Stevenson has been the Mavericks’ best 3-point shooter (6 of 9), although he had averaged just 17 minutes a game in the series. Barea, who entered the game 5 of 23 from the field, finished with 8 points and four assists in 22 minutes. Stevenson, meanwhile hit 3 of 7 3-pointers and finished with 11 points in 26 minutes.
ESPN/ABC analyst Mark Jackson, who was named coach of the Golden State Warriors Monday night, predicted the Warriors will make the postseason next year. Golden State won 36 games last season and hasn’t advanced to the postseason since a stunning first-round upset of the Mavericks in 2007. “Put it in bold letters,’’ said Jackson . . . Representatives for the NBA and the Players Association met in Dallas yesterday, and commissioner David Stern continued to be upbeat about the talks. The sides will meet again today, and Players Association director Billy Hunter said he will address the media. The collective bargaining agreement expires June 30, and Stern said both sides appear committed to striking a deal.
Gary Washburn can be reached at email@example.com.