Back to work for Heat as training camp opens
MIAMI - Defending NBA champion Miami returns to work on Saturday for pre-season training camp, with star LeBron James coming off a gold medal effort at the London Olympics and two top teammates coming off injuries.
Last June, the Heat captured their first NBA crown since obtaining James two years earlier, James finally winning his long-awaited first NBA title. Then he added Olympic gold. But that has not quenched his desire for success.
"I'm not satisfied with what I've done so far," James said. "I've accomplished a lot of goals but I'm still not satisfied with that."
Now the Heat have added 37-year-old guard Ray Allen, the all-time NBA leader in 3-point shots, and veteran forward Rashard Lewis to a championship roster.
"We can be better than we were this past season," James said. "We have the potential to be a lot better. That is scary."
The Heat will visit China for pre-season games against the Los Angeles Clippers at Beijing on November 11 and Shanghai three days later as part of the preparation for the November 30 season opener against visiting Boston.
James matched Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to win an NBA title, Olympic gold and be named the NBA regular-season and NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the same year.
"I don't think about what the other greats have accomplished. I have to make my own name," James said. "As far as legacy, I can't think about that. I've got a lot of basketball left to play."
"I want to add more presence to my game and make it more successful."
James could become only the fifth player in NBA history to win at least four NBA season MVP awards if he can lead the Heat to the sort of season players are expecting.
"You can feel the excitement," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "You can see the difference. Guys came in really in shape."
James won Olympic gold only six weeks ago and began Olympic training camp only a week after claiming the NBA crown, so fatigue could be a factor.
"I've worked on a few things," James said. "I've had to be smart and get as much rest as I could. I'll use the full pre-season to get back in game shape."
But James said that despite his busy schedule, he has no doubt he will be the best player on the court every time he suits up for the heat this season.
"That's just the confidence I play with," James said. "That's how I approach the game."
Once the campaign kicks into gear, the Heat will try to match the Los Angeles Lakers as the only team in the past decade to win back-to-back NBA titles.
"This team was built for something bigger than making a one-year run," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "How will we respond to success? Will it be as big a motivator as the pain of the year before?"
Wade and center-forward Chris Bosh were supposed to have played alongside James at London but injuries suffered during the intense playoff run kept them off the team.
Bosh said he has spent the off-season "just chilling" while Wade, who struggled with knee pain, has some spring in his step after surgery and three months of rest.
"I've been here before. I feel a lot better. I'll be ready to go," Wade said. "As the season goes on I'll feel even better. I'm looking to have a better year.
"I'll continue to work throughout the year. I won't have to play 40 minutes a night. As the season continues I will try to be stronger."
© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse