Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/26/12
MIAMI -- The NBA must have gotten bored with naming LeBron James Eastern Conference Player of the Week. The Miami Heat star had won it the two previous times, and averaged 29.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists in two wins last week. But he lost out Monday to Atlanta center Al Horford, who averaged 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists in a 4-0 week. "The game has so many great players, the award shouldn't be named for me," the forward said with a laugh when it was suggested it should be renamed in his honor. After all, James has won it 39 times in his 10 seasons. And it's gotten to the point one has to wonder if this guy ever will have a bad night, let alone a bad week. In Miami's first 13, James hasn't had an off game yet. He's reached 20 or more points in all of them, the first time he's started out a season with such a stretch. The only night James has shot below 47 percent was an 8-of-20 showing Nov. 17 at Phoenix. But we'll give him a break considering James missed the morning shootaround due to the flu and got sick during the game but still managed 21 points. James did have seven turnovers last Saturday against Cleveland. But he more than made up for it with 30 points, six rebounds and five assists while shooting 10-of-16 from the field and 8-of-9 from the line. "His bad games are still better than most of the basketball world's better games," Miami forward Shane Battier said of James, averaging 25.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists while shooting 53.1 percent for the 10-3 Heat. "It's tough to throw perfect games every night (But James this season) has been pretty steady and pretty excellent." So the question was posed to James: Could he go 82 games this season without ever having a bad one? "I'm going to have one or two or three or four," James said. "I'm going to have a few, a couple of bad games. But we'll see. Hopefully, the games that I don't shoot the ball well, I can do other things. I can rebound. I can pass the ball. I can put our team in position to win." James, the early leader to win his fourth MVP in five years, has become clearly the best player in the NBA. What makes him so great is his all-around game and his consistency. "One of the most consistent players to ever play," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade. "He's a stat stuffer. He seems effortless on some nights. That's what you become accustomed to. That's why he's one of the greatest." What James provides every night conjures up memories of New York Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio once being asked why he plays so hard. "Because there is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time," DiMaggio responded. "I owe him my best." James has the same credo. That's why he strives to put on a top-notch performance whether he's in a dead arena at midseason in Charlotte or in the NBA Finals. "I agree to that," James said when asked about what DiMaggio once said. "I say that a lot, too. I never heard that from Joe. But I feel like when I go out there, it's someone's first game they've ever seen me play. I want them to remember and say, That was a great game where he played this type of way and with a lot of passion.' And I feel like I have that responsibility." Nobody doubts James will play with passion every game this season. But will he ever have an off night? Much of it is relative. When Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points in 1961-62, his bad games were showings of 26 and 28 points. But even Michael Jordan had two real clunkers when he averaged a career-high 37.1 points in 1986-87. He had a night in which he shot 3-of-17 for 11 points and another in which he went 5-of-20 for 13 points. During last year's MVP campaign, James didn't have a shaky outing in 23 playoff games and never had a real stinker during the regular season. He did shoot 4-of-14 for 14 points in a March game against Orlando but made up for it with 12 rebounds, seven assists and five steals. That was a lockout-shortened 66-game season. Now, James will try to show off continued excellence during a standard 82-game one. Part of striving for perfection is never being satisfied. For that reason, James did admitted to some faults when it was suggested he hasn't had an off night yet this season. "I still got room for improvement. I'm not shooting the ball from the free-throw line like I want to," said James, shooting 67.1 percent, which would be a career-low. "So I'm still getting better with that. I'm continuing to get better with my game. But I think I've been pretty good at sustaining my game throughout the year." James shot just 59.1 percent from the foul line in the two weeks prior to last. But that didn't keep him from twice winning the LeBron James, er, Eastern Conference Player of the Week award. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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