LeBron: I'm the easiest target we haveJune 7, 2014 « Di Canio: Tired Rooney will struggle in heat | Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
LeBron James doesn't turn his phone on or watch much television during the playoffs, but he heard about the growing criticism he received for not being able to finish Game 1 of the NBA Finals because of severe cramps in his legs.
James said that sort of backlash after an injury is part of a burden he's become used to.
"I know I'm the easiest target that we have in sports, I'm aware of it," James said in an interview with ESPN's Michael Wilbon on Friday. "I really am. I believe it."
A high-profile athlete since he came into the league in 2003 straight from high school, James has gotten used to an increased load of criticism after his free agent move to the Miami Heat in 2010 and his poor overall showing in the 2011 Finals. Despite winning titles the past two years, James has come to terms that most of his moves will be subject to various levels of criticism because it has become popular to do so, especially on social media.
Not being able to finish the Heat's 110-95 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday and being carried off the court turned into an open season of sorts on James and his ability to play through pain.
"For me, all I can control is what I control," James told Wilbon. "For me, as one of the leaders of our team, one of the biggest competitors of our team, and knowing what it takes to win, for me, I'll maintain my focus and get ready for Game 2. (There's) anger in the sense that I wasn't able to be out there for my teammates to possibly help them win Game 1 of the Finals. But what I can control is what I do to prepare myself mentally going to the next game."
Heading into the 2011-12 season, James made it a point to start attempting to enjoy his life more, and to do that he stopped consuming as much media. After seeking the advice of Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas and Jerry West, James said that he started to focus on enjoying the process and the journey instead of focusing solely on the end result.
In the three seasons since, James said he has gotten more comfortable and become more immune to attacks.
"I can't play the game of basketball and live my life on what other people expect me to do or what they think I should do, that doesn't make me happy," James said. "What makes me happy is being able to make plays for my teammates, to be able to represent the name on the back of my jersey. That's what makes me happy. What everybody else thinks? That doesn't really matter to me."
This article first appeared on ESPN.com