LeBron James Still Seeking NBA Title After Miami Heat’s Defeat by Dallas

LeBron James went to Miami for the chance to win a National Basketball Association championship. After one season with the Heat, he’s still without one.

James and the Heat lost to Dallas 105-95 last night in Miami, where Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Cuban and the Mavericks celebrated their first NBA title.

James, a two-time Most Valuable Player who has a tattoo on his back that reads “Chosen 1,” promised multiple championships in Miami before his first practice with his new team. After failing to deliver a title, James said his debut season with the Heat was ultimately a disappointment.

“Any time you get to the top of the mountain and you fall off, it’s definitely a personal failure,” James, 26, said during a news conference. “It was a failure in ‘07 when we lost to the Spurs when I was in Cleveland. It’s a failure for myself now losing to the Mavericks.”

James led the Heat with 21 points last night, including seven in the fourth quarter. James had totaled 11 points in the fourth quarter of the first five games of the NBA Finals and was questioned in the media for a lack of assertiveness.

“LeBron has been a lightning rod for a lot of criticism,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He has made a tremendous sacrifice to come here and he’s been an ultimate team player. Sometimes there’s no excuses, no blame. Sometimes you just simply come up short.”

‘No Shortcuts’

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who was fined $100,000 by the NBA during the offseason for his negative comments about James joining the Heat, again took a jab at his former player after last night’s game.

“Old Lesson for all: There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE,” Gilbert wrote on his Twitter page, while offering congratulations to Cuban and the Mavericks.

James spent his first seven seasons in Cleveland before announcing last July 8 -- in a nationally televised ESPN show called “The Decision” -- that he’d be taking his talents to South Beach. James said he was drawn to Miami by Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and the confidence that the All-Star trio could win the championship that eluded him in Cleveland.

James and the Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals.

Las Vegas oddsmakers dropped Miami’s odds of winning the NBA title to 4-5 after James’s announcement.

The Heat entered the postseason as the second favorite behind the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, while the Mavericks were eighth out of 16 playoff teams with 18-1 odds. Dallas eliminated the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs.

Use as Motivation

After opening a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven finals, the Heat lost three straight, including last night’s game at home.

“We’ll think about how close an opportunity we had, it’ll burn inside us as competitors,” Wade said. “Our goal was to win a championship. We weren’t able to accomplish that in year one, but we’ll use this as motivation and try to get back and do it again.”

James credited the Mavericks’ defense for limiting him offensively in the Finals and said the criticism he faced didn’t have an effect. James had six of Miami’s 16 turnovers last night and hit one of four free throw attempts.

“The only thing that weighs on me is when I don’t perform well for my teammates. That’s it,” James said.

Amid the Mavericks’ celebration, Dallas point guard Jason Kidd promised the Heat would be back to challenge for a title. James, like Wade, said he would use the failure as motivation.

“I got close,” James said. “Won two more games than I did in ‘07. Hopefully the next time I get here, I win two more games.’’

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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