LeBron James at some point lost count.
Actually, he never started keeping track. At some point this season, he occasionally began riding his bicycle to practice instead of driving.
Then it turned into riding to morning shootarounds.
And then games.
Suddenly, James was spending more time on the bike than driving around in expensive cars. The added conditioning is why he seems to have no problem logging 42 minutes in the most routine of games. That was James’ stat line in the Heat’s 103-92 comeback victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
This wasn’t a national television game or against a contender. This was James showing his durability with a 22-point, 11-assist, seven-rebound performance in a game with no bearing on the remainder of the season.
“I felt great,” James said. “I didn’t get tired. I don’t think I got tired (Tuesday) night. I felt great. I could have played again if we had to. Yeah, I’ve been biking a little more than usual. It’s fun. It’s also conditioning – it’s cardio.”
James introduced his passion for riding when he was spotted on his bike on the way to the Heat’s game against the Chicago Bulls last January. Fatigue had little effect, with James scoring 35 points in a 97-93 victory. He has since added it into his conditioning program.
“He’s just a freak of nature,” Timberwolves forward Kevin Love said. “He’s very durable. He just has all the tools and continues to get better. Everyone knows that he’ll be a big problem (for opposing teams) for a really long time.”
James has made the bike ride from his Coconut Grove home three times this season. Each trek takes from about 30 to 45 minutes, depending if James is “pushing it.” Last Saturday, he made the trip four times in one day, riding to shootaround and back in the morning. A few hours later, he rode back and forth for the game against the Washington Wizards. The last trip occurred about an hour after the Heat’s 30-point victory.
“I got lights on my bike,” James said. “I’m serious. This isn’t a joke. Of course, safety first.”
James risks the chance of being noticed during one of his many rides. His solution is simple: “People try to stop me, but I’m in a zone.”
Sort of like James on the court this season. He’s once again putting up numbers to deserve regular-season Most Valuable Player consideration yet still feels the need to improve.
“I want to maximize everything I can and not waste an opportunity each and every day to compete and get better as a player,” James said. “I want to be the best.
“You’ve got to push the button sometimes.”