Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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NEW YORK — LeBron James played the first playoff game of his life at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
And for the first time in his life, he heard more than 19,000 fans serenading him with an expletive every time he touched the basketball–
“No, it’s not the first time, it’s just the first time it’s been in unison like that,” James said with a chuckle Friday at Madison Square Garden. “Everybody at the same time said it.”
James, of course, is Public Enemy No. 1 in the Big Apple because in the summer of 2010 he teased Knicks fans with the possibility that he might bring his talents to Broadway before ultimately making “The Decision” to head to South Beach.
“No emotion, fans are going to be fans,” James said of the Garden crowd that will greet him again Sunday in Game 4 with the Heat leading the series 3-0. “I understand. I don’t know. I don’t have much of a reaction to it. I was just happy we was able to win the game, really.”
James left the game with 7:23 remaining in the third when he picked up his fourth foul.
But he returned in the fourth quarter on a mission.
He scored eight unanswered points — including two 3-pointers — to help turn the game into a rout en route to an 87-70 Heat victory.
He scored 17 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth as the Heat pushed the Knicks to the brink of elimination.
“It was a little bit of everything,” James said. “It was because of the fans, how the game was going. We felt like we was right there to break the game open, we just couldn’t make a couple shots.
“We felt like if we could get enough stops we could kind of break the game open if we made a couple shots and that was my intention coming into the fourth. And I just fed off the crowd, fed off my teammates and I was able to knock a few down to start the fourth and kind of just broke it open from there.”
Photo: Daily News
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.