LOS ANGELES • LeBron James admitted on Monday that he is finding it harder and harder to accept the bitter sting of defeat in the National Basketball Association Finals as he prepares for another tilt at glory this season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers star suffered his fourth loss in six NBA Finals appearances in June after being pipped by the Golden State Warriors. And the 30-year-old acknowledged the latest failure hurt more than ever.
"Every year you lose in the Finals, it gets worse and worse to get over," the two-time NBA champion told reporters at a media day for the Cavaliers.
"Last year during the post-season, (I asked myself) would I rather not even make the play-offs than lose in the Finals?
"It's a very valid question to myself. You get all the way there and you lose, it's like, 'I could have those two months back, be laying out, helping my body get better'."
Every year you lose in the Finals, it gets worse and worse to get over... (but) for me, I will take all the pain that comes with competing for the championship at the end of the day.
He is adamant, however, that he would not have swopped his Finals appearances for anything.
"For me, I will take all the pain that comes with competing for the championship at the end of the day," he said.
James believes the Cavaliers will be able to build on the team spirit that took them to the brink of the title last season.
"I think we can build off last year, the chemistry we had, but we can't build off the success as far as wins and losses. It's a whole new year," he said. "We've got to have the same focus, we've got to have the same mind frame, we've got to have the same one goal, and that's to get better every single day, improve each and every month, and that will give us the best possible chance to play into June."
James believes the return to fitness of power forward Kevin Love will allow him to take more time off in the new season, which begins on Oct 27.
"I think Kevin Love will allow me to sit a lot this year just because of his abilities and what he's able to do," said the forward.
"I don't need to be as hard-headed. I will be smart about it."