By Amy Tennery
(Reuters) – The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James believes living in the NBA’s bio-secure bubble has probably been the biggest challenge of his triumph-filled career.
Sixteen-time All-Star James arrived in Orlando, Florida, in July along with players from 22 National Basketball Association teams, determined to pick up his fourth NBA title after the deadly coronavirus outbreak had halted professional sports in March.
Yet the 35-year-old, four-time MVP’s championship mentality was put to the ultimate test inside the NBA’s quarantine setting at Walt Disney World, where the Lakers will face the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday after weeks shut off from the outside world.
“It’s probably been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done as far as a professional, as far as committing to something and actually making it through,” James told reporters.
“I would be lying if I sat up here and (said I) knew that everything inside the bubble, the toll that it would take on your mind and your body and everything else, because it’s been extremely tough.”
The Lakers are favorites in the best-of-seven series against the Heat, James’ former team where he won his first NBA title in 2012.
“The main thing was for us to finish the season and compete for a championship,” said James. “That’s just been my mindset throughout these — I don’t even know how many days it is. However many days it is, it feels like five years. So it really doesn’t matter.
“I’ve been as locked in as I’ve ever been in my career.”
James, who typically eschews social media during the NBA postseason, has remained active on Twitter and Instagram, where he has continued to campaign for racial justice, encouraged U.S. citizens to vote in the November presidential election and cheered on his hometown Cleveland Browns.
“Everything about 2020 is different, and to make the most of it, you have to be able to adjust,” said James. “I’ve adjusted in the sense of understanding that there’s also a bigger opportunity coming up as well in November, while I’m still keeping the main thing the main thing and the focus on leaving a legacy here.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Toby Davis)