Add nose breaking to the list of things that will not stop LeBron James from dunking. The Miami Heat superstar left the ground for a dunk on Thursday only to find his nose coming into direct contact with the hand of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka. Ibaka, a 245-pound shot-blocking guru, went up to stop James from finishing what he started, but to no avail. Indeed, there was no stopping James or the Heat on Thursday, as they triumphed 103-81 over the Thunder.
Miami, in a heated battle with the Indiana Pacers for the first seed in the Eastern Conference, may not have James at their disposal while hosting the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Nonetheless, a stern message has already been sent to the Thunder, owner of the league’s best record (43-13) and the team’s chief Western Conference rival.
James is putting up numbers in the 2013-14 season that are right in line with his typical outstanding output, averaging 26.9 points per contest along with 7.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists. The 6-8 forward, now in his fourth year with the Heat, has led his team to two consecutive championships and appears as hungry as ever while in search of a three-peat, something that has not been accomplished since the Los Angeles Lakers pulled it off in 2000-02.
While the final score itself served as Miami’s ultimate statement to the Thunder, who fell to the Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, perhaps nothing encapsulates the message quite like the James’ dunk, openly defiant in the face of bodily harm.
The incident occurred halfway through the fourth quarter with James already having a game-high 33 points to his credit. Kevin Durant, his primary competition for the Most Valuable Player award at season’s end, finished with 28 points in just under 40 minutes on the court. Thankfully for Miami, the team was playing well enough to hold Oklahoma City off without James’ assistance.
While the former number one draft pick’s nose may be broken, the same can certainly not be said for his spirits. The Heat, now riding a four game winning streak, are on the rise in the East and looking to overthrow the Pacers. James was in a jovial mood after the game, joking about having to wear a Bane-like (of Batman fame) mask to protect his nose and even posting an Instagram to illustrate his appearance in such a scenario. The focal point of Miami’s offense was out of action during the team’s Saturday practice, but has not been officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bulls.
The sight of King James writhing on the ground could not have been a pleasant sight for the Heat or their fans, but all subsequent tests have come back fine, and it does not appear he will be out of action long. In the meantime, opposing teams may want to be warned: breaking LeBron James’ nose will not stop him from dunking. In fact, it may only serve as motivation to overcome whatever obstacles, both mental and physical, that are standing in the way of a three-peat.
By Spencer Hendricks