Nearly nine years have passed since LeBron James handed over his Heatles membership card and re-signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the wounds that he created by turning his nose up at what might have been a decade-long Miami Heat dynasty run deep.
“It was personal for me. It just was. I had a very good friend who talked me off the ledge and kept me from going out there and saying something…” Heat president Pat Riley told ESPN in 2017. “I’m glad I didn’t do it.”
The South Beach faithful have similar issues with James. Even now, there are a lot of lingering and complicated feelings about the Los Angeles Lakers star, some of which are shared by old teammates. Or, people have painted the situation with that brush, anyway.
In a move some are calling a shot at the future Hall of Famer, James’ former floor general — ex-Heat guard Mario Chalmers — just threw cold water on the idea that opponents were ever afraid to play against the multi-time NBA champion.
Ex-Heat PG Mario Chalmers Sounds Off on How Opposing Players Viewed Matchups With LeBron James
In a recent interview with Playmaker, Chalmers — who briefly re-joined the Heat as a hardship signee last season — made a resounding statement on what other teams and players actually felt when they saw James and the Heat on the schedule.
“Nobody fears ‘Bron,” Chalmers opined. “Nobody’s like, ‘Damn, I gotta go play against ‘Bron tonight.’ Nobody said that. I don’t know why, because I’ve seen people be scared when they actually line up to him, but they’re not scared thinking about that matchup.”
The 36-year-old contrasted that with the vibe among the ’90s crowd before they squared off with James’ chief competition in the great GOAT debate — Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.
“You hear anybody from that era talk about going against Jordan, there’s a fear,” Chalmers added. “So when you have people that fear a player then that tells you something different already. Jordan is just that guy. Like, everything was, ‘I wanna be like Mike.’”
While this one probably doesn’t qualify as beef or a legitimate shot, Chalmers clearly believes that His Airness has one over on James where the intimidation factor is concerned.
Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra Speaks Out on the Heat’s ‘April Madness’
It’s that time of year when the NBA takes a momentary backseat to college hoops and fans jump headfirst into the insanity that is the NCAA Tournament, i.e. March Madness. For his part, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says there’s some commonality to be found between the tourney and his team’s current championship quest.
Specifically with the 39-34 club facing the prospect of being in the East’s play-in tournament (the Heat are currently No. 7 on the conference table).
“It’s like our March Madness, our April madness,” Spoelstra said, via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “It really is. I see the similarities right now. Every game is a must-win. And if you’re a competitor, you have to love this — maybe not exactly where we are and how we got here.
“It doesn’t matter. If you’re a competitor and you want to be tested and have an opportunity to conquer teams and opportunities, this is what it’s all about. Right now, opportunities are just right there in front of us. Now, we have to dig in and roll up our sleeves and we’re going to have to compete and fight for it, but the opportunities are there. That’s all you can ask for at this time of the year.”