MIAMI — Whenever he wants to feel humbled, LeBron James pops in the video of the 2007 NBA Finals. The outcome never changes. He got swept. San Antonio outclassed Cleveland.
Since then, he has won two MVPs and made about $200 million. Still, nothing fills the void created by those four losses.
Here comes his chance to change that. James is heading to the Finals for the second time after the Heat ousted the Bulls in five games in the East final.
"I go back and watch some of those games and see how I wasn't that good of a player, especially on both ends of the floor," James said. "You just try to use those moments. I feel like there's no way … the team that I'm on can't win a game in a series."
What transpired over the past 12 months — being called a quitter by fans in Cleveland, getting knocked for an inability to finish, the hits the Heat took for its offseason moves — have only topped that tank of motivational fuel for James. And he has done his part to silence some of those critics.
Among the highlights: The 10 consecutive points against Boston to seal the East semifinal. The nine during an 11-2 run that decided Game 2 of the East final. The combined 71 feet of three jumpers in a span of 1:37 Thursday, including a shot with 30 seconds left that put Miami ahead for good after it trailed by 12 late.
"We know what kind of player he is," teammate Chris Bosh said. "We know how bad he wants to be in this situation. He has that pain. … It's going to help him. It's going to help us as a team."
James over Jordan?
CHICAGO — As if the Bulls losing to the Heat wasn't enough, Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen suggested LeBron James could be better than Michael Jordan.
During an interview with ESPN Radio, Pippen, who won six titles with Jordan in Chicago, said Jordan "is probably the greatest scorer to play the game" but James "may be the greatest player to ever play the game."
Pippen later tweeted, "For all of you that don't know, I played the game you keep watching and cheering." He softened his stance later, tweeting: "Don't get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday."
"Pip is my man, and we will always be close but I totally disagree," former teammate Horace Grant said. "LeBron is going to be one of the top players to ever play the game. But Michael Jeffrey Jordan, who we bumped heads with at times, is I think in my era, the best who ever played the game."
Ratings: The five-game East final averaged 10.4 million viewers on TNT. That's up 46 percent from last year's Celtics-Magic matchup.
McHALE to Houston: The Rockets hired Hall of Famer and former Celtics great Kevin McHale as coach, Yahoo reported. McHale, 53, spent 15 seasons with Minnesota as GM and was interim coach in 2004-05 and 2008-09.
Heat vs. Mavericks
Tuesday: at Miami, 9, Ch. 28
Thursday: at Miami, 9, Ch. 28
June 5: at Dallas, 8, Ch. 28
June 7: at Dallas, 9, Ch. 28
June 9: at Dallas, 9, Ch. 28 *
June 12: at Miami, 8, Ch. 28 *
June 14: at Miami, 9, Ch. 28 *
* If necessary