Report: Heat believe LeBron James checked out in 2014 NBA Finals

AP Photo/Eric Gay

LeBron James averaged 28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game in the 2014 NBA Finals. He shot 57.1% from the field, including 51.9% on 3-pointers.

But his Heat lost in five games to the Spurs. The next month, LeBron signed with the Cavaliers.

Dan Le Batard on ESPN:

Final season with the Heat, LeBron James, the Heat organization believed, knew he was leaving and checked out on the Finals. It looked like he was trying. The stat sheet looked like he was trying. But the Miami Heat believed that he checked out and was no longer trying.

I trust that members of the Heat organization believe this. Le Batard is well-connected in South Florida. There’s also clearly resentment in Miami toward LeBron for leaving, especially by Pat Riley.

But this is incredibly unfair by the Heat.

For most of the series, I believed LeBron deserved to win Finals MVP. It wasn’t until Game 5 Kawhi Leonard – the actual winner – surpassed LeBron to me. Even then, LeBron had a case.

He and his teammates just ran out of gas. This was an aging roster with many of its players on their fourth straight long playoff run. LeBron might argue the Heat’s thriftiness left too much on his shoulders. He infamously left Game 1 with cramps.

I can’t know what was in LeBron’s mind during the 2014 NBA Finals. But he kept a fading supporting cast competitive with an excellent opponent. If he can do that without trying, more power to him.