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LeBron says win over Bulls might have been the toughest closeout game of his career

May 16, 2013, 12:34 PM EDT

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It’s no secret that the Bulls gave everything they had against the Heat, and that Chicago team will be remembered as one of the hardest-fighting in recent memory, especially considering all of the injuries they dealt with throughout the course of the postseason.

The Heat had the utmost respect for their opponent, and couldn’t stop talking about how tough it was to compete against them for five straight games.

LeBron James seemed exhausted during his postgame press conference, and spoke with a tone that almost resembled defeat, rather than the series-clinching victory his team had just experienced.

He went on to say that Game 5 might have been the toughest closeout game of his career, and the way the Heat gave back all of an early 18-point lead to actually trail by as many as 11 in the second half before coming away with the three-point victory would suggest nothing less.

Check out the video clip above for the entirety of LeBron’s comments.

  1. iowahbr - May 16, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Like a great bourbon James is getting better with age, both on and off the court. And I am not a member of his fan club.

    • andrewproughcfe - May 16, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      Looked to me like Mavericks 2011 was a harder closeout game for him. And Celtics 2010.

      They were so hard, he practically disappeared.

      • nycalldayz - May 16, 2013 at 2:07 PM

        @andrewproughcfe

        Agree. Lebron’s had tougher close out games in his career. The Celtics in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Magic in 2009. The Wizards in 2007. The Spurs in 2007. The Mavericks in 2011.

      • cantonbound13 - May 16, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        Let’s be fair, he quit in 2010.

    • cantonbound13 - May 16, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Would that be the hair club for men or an actual LeBron fan club?

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 16, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    The Bulls played great last night. I said it right after the game, and I’m saying it now.

    Buuuuuuuuuuutttttt……

    They did lose 4 straight by an average of 17.25 points, right? Three of the wins were double digit, with two of them being US v. Angola in the 92 Olympic variety, right?

    Yes, not having Rose was huge, but they played the whole year without him and still got the 5th seed; and still won their first round playoff series. Hinrich and Deng are very good players, sure; and their presence would have made the series tougher; but Noah, Boozer, Nate, Marco, Taj, Rip, and Butler aren’t exactly D-Leaguers. All 7 of those guys are good to excellent NBA players.

    So to characterize the Bulls as a team with no talent is completely ridiculous.

    What’s crazy is that Heat are so good that any win by less than 20 is deemed a moral victory for the losing team? Has any other team ever been held to such a high standard?

    This is why the Heat aren’t just playing for the championship, even though of course that’s the goal. The Heat are playing for a seat at the table with the 96 Bulls. The 84 Celts. The 87-88 Lakers. The GOATS. Not going to be easy.

    • 1972sxwife - May 16, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      You’re pathetic!

      • cantonbound13 - May 16, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        Love the name & you’re smart too!

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 16, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        I can think of someone more pathetic.

    • ccshocktalk - May 16, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      I hope you were drinking when you wrote that. Nobody is ever going to sit at the table with the ’96 Bulls for a variety of reasons. They might get a record that is similar but the game has changed so much that it will never be the same. It’s like saying if you went undefeated today in football it’s the same as when the ’72 dolphins did it. The games are drastically different.

      As far as the current Bulls are concerned, this team has split the playoff and season games with the Heat. They always battle…the Bulls took 2 out of 4 from Miami this year, and have done so the last few years. I will never pin things on injuries. That being said, losing Deng was huge, losing Kirk was huge, and the stupid decision making to get tech’s and ejections was just piss poor. Chicago should have/could have/ would have gotten a few more W’s had they played a bit smarter even with a lackluster roster.

      • elcapitanfiscal - May 16, 2013 at 8:29 PM

        The 96 bulls never went on such a streak as the one the heat did..

        Bron is making his own records..

        Dont hate, just stand back in awe at what he is doing to the league.

      • ccshocktalk - May 17, 2013 at 10:49 AM

        Are you stupid?

        going on a run now is difficult, but not nearly as difficult as it was back then. In 1996 you had to go through a lot more challenges than Miami has had to go through…and of all things, fouls today weren’t fouls at all back then. Technical fouls that get you ejected today barely warranted a whistle back then…it’s no question the phrase no blood no foul came from basketball of old. Today, you might as well put on a suit, tie, break out tea and crumpets and shoot buckets in a “gentlemanly” manor.

        I’m not hating on LeBron, he’s got skill, he has talent, he has a lot of followers, and the fact that I can appreciate his skill should show idiots like you I’m not a hater, I just know the difference between the prince and the king, and it’s enormous. When LeBron starts knocking on Kobe’s doorstep for rings, and awards then you can compare those two. When he passes Kobe, and approaches 6 rings among multiple MVP awards, and all NBA teams, then you can almost bring up the conversation of who is better.

        Until then, go watch ESPN classics and educate yourself on how much harder the NBA used to be, and how great Michael is.

    • cantonbound13 - May 16, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      You’ve beaten a sad Bucks team that is under .500 & would have been eliminated from the playoffs with a month to go if they were out West. You beat a Bulls team missing 60% of it’s starting lineup. Lots of noise for such a small accomplishment.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 16, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        Haven’t accomplished anything yet. Nobody’s saying otherwise. It’s been a dream season, and it’s been an amazing run so far. But the hard part is still ahead.

      • heat256 - May 16, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        Yet you idiot Knicks fans crowed after beating an old and broken Boston team, and are now having your jocks handed to you by a better team. When they are shown the door, will you stop posting on here?

      • cantonbound13 - May 18, 2013 at 3:31 PM

        You are living proof that any illiterate person can create an account on here. Kurt will be happy to know it’s that easy.

      • badintent - May 17, 2013 at 3:13 AM

        @heat256
        Knicks ARe an OLD team too. 90 % of them are old enough to be your dad. If the Celtics were so broken, how come your team barely beat them in the playoffs last year with the same starting 5 ?I’m a big LBJ fan, I respect his amazing talent, but if Posh Bosh goes soft again, you have to rely on Birdman to control the paint.If Wade ‘s ankle goes south, you have to rely on a second year player to run the team , Coles is a up and comer, but he is no Felton or KIdd wins and 3 of 4 with the Heat this year is talking , not some little Havana expresso.Hope you didn’t bet your paycheck on the Pacers tonight.

    • ojdurham - May 16, 2013 at 7:10 PM

      What are you smoking? How you can justify this win for the Heat as being good even though they didn’t have Rose? The Bulls didn’t have Rose, Captain Kirk or Deng. Rose is a superstar who can take over a game. Kirk is a floor general who won’t give you many points but knows how to run an offense. Deng was Mr dependable and would give you 16/7 every night. They were replaced by Nate who is a chucker and not a real PG. He has night’s that he plays above his level and days where he will straight shoot you out of a game. He is not a starting caliber player. Marco is a shooter but not a starting SG in the league. Jimmie Buckets is young and learning the game. He could start on most teams in the league. Boozer is good but plays at an elite level once every 5 games. The other games he gives you 12/6. Then you get to Noah who is a great, elite top 3 center in the league. But guess what? He’s been playing hurt for the last 3 months.

      What I’m saying is that the Heat SHOULD have won every game by 25 points. They played against 1 All-Star who’s crippled and playing on one foot. The fact that the Bulls beat them one game and played them tough in two others is a miracle in itself. The Heat should feel like crap for not sweeping the series with a point margin of 25.

      If the heat play Memphis, ZBO and Gasol will rip them a new one every game.

  3. 4thquartermagic - May 16, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Maybe its so hard for him because he has to do all the heavy lifting on a heavily favored team.

    Can someone tell me why Dwayne Wade is always hurt or hurting?

    Seems like that dudes been “questionable” since 2006.

  4. cincyorangenblack - May 16, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    1972.

    You are the worst. Seriously, get over the longing for someone to acknowledge the Heat’s greatness. You should be upset & embarrased that they struggled so much against a the zombie Bulls. Only team in this series that should be commended are the Bulls. They were WAY WAY overmatched from a talent perspective as well as a bench body perspective. the 2 games they lost big were tremendously bad shooting performances that didn’t have much to do with the Heat’s hard “never a foul” defense.

    Ppl like you are why EVERYONE else hates the Heat and their fans, yet can still admit to respecting James most of the time. I liken it to growing up a fan of any non-bulls team, but watching MJ in awe & harboring some amount of respect for the guy.

    can’t wait until next year when a healthy Bulls team gets to roll on the Heat in regular season again, then in the Playoffs.

    • romerylb1010 - May 16, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      cincyorangenblack

      Who says EVERYONE hates the Heat? Only the ignorant people in OHIO like you who can’t get over him leaving for greener pastures. Get over it already!

    • angulocarlos1 - May 16, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Lol heat own the bulls, truth hurts

      • 2difshoe - May 16, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        Agree – when your team leader is soft and a coward, Derrick Rose, the Heat will continue to dominant.

        Rose, is weak when it comes to manning up. Do think Michael Jordan would have sat out during the playoffs when he was cleared to play 2 months prior.

        The ‘ C ‘ on Roses’ uniform is for C O W A R D !

        Bull Fan

      • yuwannano - May 16, 2013 at 3:19 PM

        Yea. They “owned” a team that had lost THREE of their star players. *slow clap*

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 16, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      Just saying the Bulls were not the sad sack, no-talent team they are being portrayed as. Jeez, that makes me the worst?

      And if the Heat wins the championship, I’m pretty sure their greatness will be acknowledged. If they don’t, you can bet that will be acknowledged as well.

    • rod2771 - May 16, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      Cincy, I really couldn’t care less how you or other people feel about the Heat or their fans. Get over your sports nerd self. By the way, the Bengals suck, hope I didn’t ruin your day.

    • cantonbound13 - May 16, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      Like most of the bandwagoners he just started following the NBA. He would have been in awe watching Michael, Larry, Magic, etc… Back when there were players with skills, back when centers actually dominated at both ends of the floor.
      72 always throws around greatest ever when referring to the Heat or LeBron If he followed basketball in the 80′s or 90′s he’d realize how ridiculous he sounds. LeBron would never be successful because the league was much more physical & the players has a lot more skill.

      • katra2logic - May 16, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Methinks you should rethink your reasoning. You stack up any of the players you mentioned (who are all time greats, as were Kareem and Wilt from previous eras. Yes, I have been following bball since the late 60′s, no bandwagoner here) and only Wilt would have the physicality of LeBron. LBJ would have excelled in any era as he is a muscle machine. The only weakness in the ‘skill’ areas of his game is the mid-range jumper and he is still improving that.

        I feel you must have a personal dislike for LBJ as you claim to know something about the game but fail to see his greatness. A real analyst leaves their subjectivity at home…

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 16, 2013 at 4:18 PM

        Not just throwing around Greatest Ever. I understand what I’m saying. The man won player of the month every month this year. He’s back to back MVP and 4 of last 5. You can even argue that he’s the Defensive Player of the Year His team has won 46 of 50 games inclusing a 27 game streak. He’s got one trophy, and this biggest failure was losing the Finals in 6 games with a 3 man team. And he’s done it all under the biggest microscope (some of it brought on by himself) in sports history.

        You talk about the 80s & 90s like you’re some expert. As little as you know about the NBA now, you know 1000 times more now about it than you possibly could have known then. They showed one game on TV per week, plus the Hawks on TBS and the Knicks on MSG. Didn’t even even televise the Finals live until 82 or so. I know because I was a Sonics fan and had to stay up way late to watch Gus dribble out the final seconds against Washington.

        What you know about the NBA in the 80s has been told to you by players who want to make themselves sound as good as possible, and by watching well produced highlight packages. Dude, you and I would look good if “highlights” our athletic “prowess” was produced properly.

      • heat256 - May 16, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        Yeah, LeBron isn’t the buff specimen Durant or (Marsh)Melo are, and would surely shrink in the face of the mountain men back then. .Since you’re such an “expert”, then surely you’d know the evolution of both the players and the league from phyiscal, halfcourt play to a more wide open style that utilizes the players’ ability to play and guard different positions on the floor. 6-10 guys with 3 point range are more common now than before. Just because you flogged your little willy to Bill Simmons’s basketball book doesn’t make you an expert.

      • chicitybulls - May 16, 2013 at 5:30 PM

        @1972

        “I know because I was a Sonics fan and had to stay up way late to watch Gus dribble out the final seconds against Washington.”

        I think this line is why a lot of people dont like heat “fans”/fans. Its like they’re bandwagon. You were a Sonics fan and now root for the heat. I understand the Sonics are no longer there but OKC is a pretty darn good team to follow. Not calling you specifically out. There are a lot of people who did/does it. My buddy who grew up with me in Chicago was a Bulls fan. We used to party in the streets together (along with everybody else) when they were winning championships but when Jordan retired and the team was bad he jumped ship. Guess what team he roots for now? I think people understand heat fans that have been there from the beginning through thick and thin but the ones who talk trash and are bandwagonny are the ones people dont like.

      • borderline1988 - May 16, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        I’m not sure how you could think that Lebron wouldn’t be able to handle the physicality of the NBA 20 years ago.

        The guy is 6″8 and 250 – 260 pounds. He’s basically built like Karl Malone but runs and dribbles like a PG. He would dominate at any and every point in the league’s history.

      • cantonbound13 - May 18, 2013 at 3:28 PM

        he plays like a pansy, flops & complains about physical play.

    • ojdurham - May 17, 2013 at 12:00 AM

      You are 100% correct. It’s the bandwagon Heat fans that talk just to hear themselves talk that gets annoying fast. Everyone wants to rave about how good the heat are but they are supposed to be that good. They acquired two of the top free agents on the market 3 years ago and acquiring ring chasing veterans all the time. During the 3 years they have been together, the Bulls had the best record in the league during the regular season.

      Everyone wants to compare the Heat to the Bulls of the 90′s but the Bulls had Jordan and got lucky with a trade for Pippen. They did it with run of the mill PGs that never touched the ball with Hodges, Armstrong, Kerr, and Paxon. They had good but not great PFs during both runs. Horace Grant was good but not elite and Rodman was an outcast rather than a ring chasing vet. At the center position, they did it with terrible, legit 7 footers in Cartwright, Luc Longley, and Wengington. The majority of the roster were pieces of the puzzle that just fit rather than ring chasing vets like Birdman, Battier, Allen, Rashard Lewis and Juwan Howard.

      Bottom line, there is no comparison between any Bulls team in the 90′s and the Heat today.

      And Lebron flopping to get Nazr ejected then claiming he never flops is the epitome of who he is as a man. He will run you over like he tried to do to Kirk Hinrick but then if you touch him, he’s gonna flop on the court and cry like a baby.

  5. floridascuba1 - May 16, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Cincy, do you forget that a healthy bulls team rolled the heat couple years ago with MVP rose. Only to get rolled in the playoffs. I thought so.

  6. nycalldayz - May 16, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    I think Lebron is being gracious with his comments regarding the Bulls. The Heat were suppose to win the CHI/MIA series with or without Rose, Deng and Hinrich. I seriously doubt Lebron believes those comments about the Bulls being the “toughest closeout game of his career” is just utter nonsense. Lebron has played a lot of tough series throughout his career and most of them were against the Celtics. But got to give credit to the Bulls, because those guys were depleted and kept pushing.

  7. dgilet1 - May 16, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Did someone say mention journeymen Nate Robinson and Marco bellinelli and old injured rip Hamilton as excellent talent and tried to compare their presence to that of all stars rose and deng along with an amazing defender and facilitator and shooter in hinrich??? How many minutes did Robinson and bellinelli average in the first 5 years of their careers. This was a team with minimal talent 0 depth that got some of the greatest coaching anyone could ask for. Add the talent of deng hinrich and MVP rose and yes it’s a completely different story

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 16, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      And lost by an average of 17.25 pts per game

      • ojdurham - May 17, 2013 at 12:06 AM

        They were supposed to lose by 35/game. So by your standards, the heat underachieved.

  8. dgilet1 - May 16, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Also whoever brings up 2 years ago keep in mind that Kirk hinrich was my on the team, rose was in his second year only and didn’t have a jump shot, Noah is wayyyyy better now than he was than and was not an all star than, and jimmy butler who played amazing was still at Marquette. It’s a bad comparison

    • brutl - May 16, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      No, this is a bad comparison– “Noah is wayyyyy better now than he was than and was not an all star than”
      Than what?

  9. trimaster1 - May 16, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Why are people so angry the Heat beat the Bulls? Like it’s their fault the Bulls player’s were hurt.

    Truth is, the Bulls are a good team, and if they weren’t they wouldn’t have beaten the Nets. lebron gave them props because they play HARD. Butler played Lebron tough all series.

    The 96 Bulls are considered one of the best ever, no doubt about it and they deserve those accolades. HOWEVER, if the heat win this year, that’ll be 2 in a row, AND a team that won 27 games in a row. Now even the Bulls have come close to that streak.

    The debate will be there, like it or not.

    • ojdurham - May 17, 2013 at 12:10 AM

      I do believe the Bulls won 72 that year. The Heat, 66. So what does 27 wins really mean? Seems like the Bulls but forth a better effort for 82 games than the Head did.

  10. losanginsight - May 16, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Trying to close out a team that was nissing 3 starters was tough? Looks like no ring for LBJ this year or next year. Memphis will chew this guy up if they make it past the Pacers. Scottie pippen jr will have to find a new team to piggy back on after next year since Wade will need a knee replacement.

  11. dgilet1 - May 16, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    I meant at that time. He was not an all star caliber player. However I don’t knock the heat they beat the team in front of them. That’s what they had to do and they did it. But someone up top spoke about the bulls still having excellent talent siting bellinelli and Nate Robinson an rip Hamilton. Saying its not d league talent. That’s the point I had an issue with. Like its not d league talent but these guys were supposed to be replacement bench players on a rebuilding year. It’s not knocking the heat more so don’t make it seem like deng rose and hinrich make no difference in comparison to their replacements.

  12. realninerfan22 - May 16, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    Lbj has turned into the modern day valday divac

  13. losanginsight - May 17, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    If this was lbjs toughest game he won’t leave miami with only a * ring after next season.The bulls were missing 3 starters.
    D wade needs a new knee too. Heat will lose to the griz or spurs if they make it past the pacers.

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