Former Suns forward recalls lighting fire under LeBron James during Heat game: ‘Almost lost my job that day’

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former Phoenix Suns forward Dionte Christmas recalled lighting a fire under LeBron James in a regular-season matchup when James was a member of the Miami Heat alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Former Suns guard Archie Goodwin recounted the story.

“This is when he was with the Heat,” Goodwin said. “One of my teammates — I ain’t gon’ say his name. LeBron catch the ball on the wing, on the right wing. He right by our bench. So, I’m on the bench, and my teammate on the bench. So, LeBron catches the ball, and he’s sizing up P.J. Tucker. And one of my teammates yell out, ‘Yo, we livin with that s—. Shoot that broke a– s—. We livin with it.’ So, LeBron passed the ball. He looked back at him. He said, ‘What you say?’ One of our coaches at the time, he looked at my teammate like, ‘Yo, shut the f— up. Leave him alone.’ So, my assistant coach is cussing him the f— out, ‘Don’t f—— wake the bear up. He ain’t been doin nothin all game.’ It was third quarter, so he had been chillin. We was only down four or five. He only had six points. No bulls—, he only had six points. He ended the game with 38. He ended the game with 38. … He went nuts, and we end up losing by 20.”

Channing Frye later confirmed Goodwin’s story to be true.

Channing Frye

Based on Goodwin’s recollection about the game, it seems the contest in question took place on Nov. 25, 2013.

The Heat went on to beat the Suns that game by 15 points, 107-92. Contrary to what Goodwin said, James scored 35 points, not 38. He also shot 11-of-14 from the field and 11-of-11 from the free-throw line to give the Heat their 11th win of the 2013-14 regular season.

The only other player on Miami to score more than 20 points in the team’s win against the Suns was Wade. The shooting guard recorded 21 points, six rebounds and 12 assists in 33 minutes of playing time for the Heat.

Bosh — arguably the team’s third-best player — put together a forgettable performance. He finished with just seven points and four rebounds while shooting 2-of-9 from the field.

As for Phoenix, it was Frye — who later went on to become James’ teammate on the Cleveland Cavaliers — who led the Suns in scoring. In 32 minutes of play, he scored 16 points and also knocked down four 3-pointers.

But Frye was just one of six players on the Suns who managed to reach double digits in scoring. Tucker had 10 points, while Goran Dragic scored 14 points. Gerald Green recorded 12 points.

Additionally, Markieff Morris and his twin brother Marcus scored 12 and 13 points off the Suns’ bench, respectively.

The 2013-14 iteration of the Heat finished the regular season with a 54-28 record, the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Miami then went on to reach the 2014 NBA Finals, where it lost to the San Antonio Spurs in five games.

It’s great to see that Christmas, Frye and Goodwin can look back on a somewhat embarrassing moment involving their former team and get a laugh out of it.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.