Look what we did, internet. We ruined a good thing. LeBron James's casually thunderous, between-the-legs-and-off-the-glass slam during warmups for Sunday's game went viral, shining a light on a relatively recent Heat tradition: the layup line mini-dunk contest. But people have been getting on James (for being too awesome?), and now he's considering retiring the pregame routine. No dunks for anyone.
"Maybe I should stop because it's making a lot of people mad about what I do," James said after last night's game. "They're like, 'Well, if you can do it in warmups, why don't you (want to) be in the dunk contest? Stop it.'"
I'm not exactly sure where this criticism has been. Do we wish James would enter the dunk contest? Of course. Do his warmup dunks make us think he'd dominate the competition? Yep, and that makes us a little sad, because it'll probably never happen and we're stuck with Terrence Ross and Jeremy Evans. But we haven't actually seen anyone saying James shouldn't keep up his pregame show. Perhaps it's just his persecution complex talking, looking for disrespect now that everyone's agreed he's the best player on earth.
Or maybe he doesn't like the spectacle of it all. The best thing about James's warmup dunks are how tossed-off they seem, performed with the bare minimum of fuss. Now it's becoming an event. Owner Micky Arison has been tweeting out the video of Sunday's slam, telling fans that's why they should show up early to games. Last night, the Heat streamed live video of the layup line on their website. A friendly team competition has become a one-man traveling show, and it's not as if James needs the added attention.
Nor does he need to invent slights for motivation. The Heat extended their winning streak to 12 games with a double-OT win over Sacramento last night, and James was characteristically incredible. He had eight rebounds and 16 assists to go with his 40 points, with 11 of those points coming in the second overtime. Erik Spoelstra called them "video game numbers."
Before the game, as Miami's shoot-around came to an end, James broke out one more (one last?) dunk. It was suitably remorseless: