LeBron James throws down the breakaway dunk (GIF)

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Heat tried to manufacture tension between themselves and the San Antonio Spurs. LeBron James tried to turn a comment from Spurs’ center Tim Duncan into bulletin board material.

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Predictably those comments didn’t play, whether it be with either of the teams or even in the narrative-hungry media coverage of the finals. Even if that story did not have life, however, you better believe that James wanted to make a statement early in game one.

He got the chance to make just such a statement on this play. After a Spurs’ turnover James got a few steps out in front of the pack and glided end to end for one of his patented breakaway dunks.

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The scary levels of James’ athleticism were on display here. He could have sprinted the whole way and simply finished this dunk without a member of the Spurs in the camera shot. Instead he slowed down to what I suppose is considered a “jog” for him, and Danny Green still wasn’t able to catch up.

It’s simplistic and almost a cliche, but it’s also true: if you believe in the Miami Heat in this series, then you believe in LeBron James and his ability to carry the Heat to a third straight championship. There are lot of miles on LeBron and the rest of the “big three” given the fact that they have appeared in four straight NBA Finals. Whether or not there are ill-effects for them or the Spurs will matter in this series.

If LeBron looks fresh like this for the duration of the series, do you want to bet against him?