MIAMI -- And the show before the actual show will continue.
Two days after jokingly saying he may put an end to the Miami Heat's pre-game dunk routine, LeBron James made it clear it will remain part of warmups. James was responding to those who were critical of him displaying his high-flying moves before the game instead of the NBA's Dunk Contest.
James has avoided the competition during his 10 years in the league.
"I don't do it for anybody besides our team," James said after Thursday's practice. "We came up with something and said, 'Let's get warmed up even more. Actually, (Mario Chalmers) was the one who really started it. He said, 'Let's get hype, let's get up.' We're happy that our fans love it. We're going to continue to do it. It's something that we enjoy."'
James thought about canceling the pre-game dunk show once its popularity increased. It became a YouTube sensation Sunday when a fan posted video of James dunking before playing the Cleveland Cavaliers. He threw the ball behind his back, bouncing it off the backboard before dunking it over teammate Rashard Lewis.
James felt it would create a stir because he's long been pressured to compete during All-Star Weekend.
"I don't care," James said when asked about the criticism. "I've been criticized for everything. It doesn't matter to me. That is a small thing on my agenda. I'm getting criticized for what I do in warmups? Stop."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra got on the defensive when asked if he was concerned about players risking injury during the dunk shows, calling the notion "absurd." Among the participants in the pre-game event are James, Chalmers, Norris Cole, Chris Andersen, Ray Allen and Mike Miller.
Spoelstra said he encouraged the competition because it avoids the players from being "a bunch of zombies" during pre-game.
"So we don't want them to warmup? I like seeing our guys in a lather (of sweat)," Spoelstra said. "... As long as I see a lather and they're ready to go, that's whole point."
Teammates also defended James. Guard Dwyane Wade had a simple message for fans who want to see James dunk.
Come to a game.
"For all the people that's saying stuff about his pre-game, get down to Miami if you want to see it," Wade said. "Buy a ticket and come to AmericanAirlines Arena. He doesn't have to prove anything to anybody. He's doing it for himself. He's doing it for his team. He gets everybody going."
For those who are unable to make it to Miami, the team began live-streaming the pre-game on their website before Tuesday's game against the Sacramento Kings. It is likely the closest fans will come to seeing James compete in any type of dunking event.
Before ending his interview session, he even took a shot at some of the recent dunk contestants. When asked about the originality of his dunks, he appeared to take a jab at the usage of props by James White, Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson during All-Star Weekend.
"It just happens," James said. "I don't really plan it. I don't know, I just did it. I don't need props and capes and cheerleaders and flight attendants to walk out with me."
Mum on the streak
The Heat have tried everything to downplay the 12-game winning streak entering Friday's game against the Grizzlies. Spoelstra said he's avoided discussing it during team meetings or practices.
"You can't talk about it," Spoelstra said. "We've got to talk about what we always do, and that's the process of getting better. It's not about winning the next game so we can maintain the streak."
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