August 18, 2012 in Sports

Wade praises James for taking game to new level

Tim Reynolds Associated Press
 

James
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – All LeBron James has done so far this year is win the NBA’s MVP award for the third time, an NBA Finals MVP trophy to go along with that one, his elusive first championship and a second Olympic gold medal.

Dwyane Wade thinks his Miami Heat teammate is just getting started.

With the start of Heat training camp just six weeks away, Wade said on Friday that he expects James to be even better this coming season now that the will-he-win- a-championship question has been put to rest.

“That monkey is off his back and now he’s just playing basketball,” Wade said while taking a break from his annual fantasy camp, where fans pay up to $12,500 to get a four-day luxury taste of NBA life. “I think we’ll see a better LeBron James – scary to say, three-time MVP – than we’ve seen. And it’s because all he has to do is play basketball now. He doesn’t have to worry about what he hasn’t done.

“It’ll always be something, but he’s got the biggest one off his back.”

Wade was a James fan instead of a James teammate this summer, when the U.S. men’s basketball team won its second straight Olympic gold.

Wade could not play while recovering from knee surgery but was in London for part of the Olympic tournament, and he said James made playing at a high level – such as a triple-double against Australia in the quarterfinal round – seem “effortless.”

Going back to Miami’s win-or-go-home Game 6 in Boston of the Eastern Conference finals, James has played in 20 games with the Heat and for USA Basketball. In those, his teams are 19-1, with the lone loss being Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Oklahoma City.

Four straight wins to close that title series, then five straight exhibition victories with the U.S. team, then an 8-0 Olympic record – 17 straight wins in all.

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