Nose knows how tough Sunday would be for LeBron

It's LeBron James' call, but Heat's 'Ironman' could use a day off

Heat superstar LeBron James discusses his broken nose.

MIAMI

This is how his day will go. LeBron James will wake up with his nose sore, his breathing difficult and his body tired, "because I haven't been sleeping well lately — even before this," he said.

This, was a broken nose. This, is the drama around the Heat. And what a welcome relief to have the champs finally back in town, where drama is a natural outgrowth of a game rather than the seamy side of off-field issues like with the Dolphins.

As the day goes on, James' nose will feel a little less sore, in part due to loosening up, maybe because of a painkiller. James will then have a decision to make: To play or not to play?

"We'll see," he said Saturday morning as the Heat finished a practice without him doing more than shooting free throws.


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It's his nose, his decision. But if I'm the Heat, I push him to sit down Sunday against Chicago. He's coming off a three-week road trip — the longest in franchise history — and broke his nose on the last stop Thursday in Oklahoma City.

He had it medically "corrected," Friday, as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. He looked tired Saturday. He sniffled. He shuffled where he normally bounces. He wore a thick bandage over the nose.

"No, no, no," James answered, his voice muffled, when asked if he could play a game Saturday.

So why push it Sunday? Why not put him on the Dwyane Wade Maintenance Treatment on the way to April?

Oh, let's not overdo this. A broken nose isn't a busted knee. If James wants to play, there's no reason to stop him. Ticket-paying fans and a national TV audience would love it.

His game obviously would help the Heat stay in drafting position behind Indiana in the East and certainly wouldn't hurt his hopes for the Most Valuable Player award. Now that the discussion has warmed up again.

Kevin Durant was the flavor of January. But LeBron is the best player in the league, as everyone knows. Maybe some obvious drama like having a good game with a broken nose would sway the MVP conversation entirely his way again, if that matters.

That's fine if it's part of his motivation, too. A lot of people have the idea individual awards should be shunned. They shouldn't be. Not as long as they're folded into the bigger picture of winning. And LeBron's style of play is all about winning.

But, again, he could use the rest. He would get a week off until Thursday's game. He's played 52 of the Heat's 53 games this year, too. "An Ironman," teammate Chris Bosh called James.

What do doctors tell people when your nose is broken? Take it easy. Don't stress. Avoid contract.

That last one is especially relevant against the active elbows of Chicago. LeBron was given the ol' sports question about how once you're in the game with the adrenaline flowing if you could forget about it.

He agreed to a point.

"Until you get it hit," he said. "Then it'd hurt."

Bosh broke his nose while with Toronto playing LeBron's Cleveland team. Antwan Jamison got him with a forearm underneath the basket.

"It was awful to deal with," he said. "Especially early on, everything's sore and you don't want to get hit. A mask helps. Sort of."

James is a big movie fan. He sent out a picture on Instagram of him wearing the mask of the villain, Bane, in the movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." He watched "Robocop" with his sons Friday night.

He also talked of some other masked characters he liked, notably Ironman, who, "looked pretty cool," he said.

But when you think of movie scenes for LeBron right now, what comes to mind is Burgess Meredith yelling from outside the ropes at Rocky, "Stay down! Stay down!"

Let Dwyane Wade, who is healthy for now, be a star again. Let Bosh play the kind of pronounced role he's taken on more and more this year.

It would be great theater to watch LeBron play Sunday. And maybe he does. But with the way he looked Saturday, why?

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