MIAMI — At 6:44 p.m., LeBron James entered the Heat locker room through a side door, wearing black gym shorts and no shirt a half-hour after his latest statement on why the regular season matters. He shouted to teammate Jarvis Varnado, who was inactive Sunday.
"You all right, J.V.?" LeBron said.
Their lockers are beside each other. Some nights Varando gets trapped by the few dozen media members surrounding his neighbor. LeBron didn't want to start his postgame session until Varnado was clear.
"I'm good,'' Varnado said with a wave.
So now the questions came after Sunday's 107-97 win against the Los Angeles Lakers continued a stretch for LeBron that seems the product of some fertile basketball imagination. Maybe his own.
"This is what I do,'' he said at one point about a locomotive attack to the basket and dunk, though it could just as well serve as a statement of his game.
He scored 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting Sunday to become the first Heat player to score 30 points five straight games. That erased Dwyane Wade's mark of four games from the team record book in what's becoming so common a change that Wade recently noted, "I better enjoy what I got while it lasts."
LeBron was told he's 49-of-65 shooting over the last five games.
"Forty-nine, what, made?" he said.
Told that was right, he smiled and uttered a mild expletive. So he's intrigued as much as basketball fans about this run. Some people have been fed a lot of propaganda about how the regular season doesn't matter.
But as Sunday's show again asked: Does everything have to be the big picture? Can't the immediate context of a game be a reminder of why we enjoy day-to-day sports in the first place?
No one's going to say LeBron's run of late has the consequence of the playoffs. But don't deny yourself the pleasure of watching greatness just because it's not June. What if the best entertainment of the season is LeBron in this torrid stretch?
"He really has no weaknesses,'' D'Antoni said. "He is about as good as you can get, I would think. Maybe someone will come along who is better, but he is really playing well right now."
A year ago, when LeBron had his breakout year, the thought was it was Dan Marino in 1984 for South Florida again. But here it is, a year later, and it's still 1984 for LeBron.
"I think he's figured out his game and how to use his size,'' the Lakers' Kobe Bryant said. "I think he's a little more focused than when he was younger. When you're a young player, particularly him, you expect things to happen. Your career seems like it's endless.
"I think he's at the stage of his career in which he'll value each year and take the significance to his training and take the significance to focus each game."
On Sunday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra planned on taking LeBron out of the game in the fourth quarter to give him a rest. Extended minutes, after all, remain the only enemy for LeBron as he continues a non-stop year of basketball between the NBA, Olympics and NBA again.
"But he was playing with so much energy on both ends of the court,'' he was kept in the game, Spoelstra said. "Then in the last five minutes he had to take the challenge defensively against Kobe. So he was doing it at both ends of the court."
LeBron has become so much the centerpiece of basketball that Wade had similar numbers Sunday and was an afterthought. Wade made the same 12-of-18 shots as LeBron, scoring 30 points, scrapping defensively.
"LeBron is playing in another galaxy,'' Wade said.
So he understands what's at work here. We all do. And if you love the fabric and context of sports, it doesn't matter this February. Spoelstra nudged a reminder.
"I say this to Miami fans: don't take it for granted,'' Spoelstra said. "He's making greatness look easy."