INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- LeBron James loves vacationing in Chicago. He just has no interest in doing it anytime soon.
After the Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah sharply criticized the city of Cleveland, saying there is nothing to do and no one vacations there, James on Wednesday called Chicago one of the greatest places in America.
"It's an awesome city. Great restaurants, great shopping," said James, who spent three summers in Chicago while in high school working out at Michael Jordan's facility. "I have nothing bad [to say] about Chicago, and I'm not saying that because of what he said about Cleveland. I'm dead serious. We all love Chicago."
Without prompting, James then added that he has vacationed in Chicago a few times. As reporters laughed at the irony, James chuckled, but insisted he was serious.
"You all are making it a joke, tomorrow it's going to be a joke, but I'm being very serious," he said. "I love Chicago. I love Cleveland and love Akron, too."
The Cavaliers practiced at home Wednesday before departing for Chicago, where they will face the Bulls on Thursday already leading their Eastern Conference playoff series 2-0. The top-seeded Cavs can advance and prevent Noah and the Bulls from returning to Cleveland by sweeping the series with wins on Thursday and Sunday.
James was at his best in Game 2, finishing with 40 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. He scored 15 in the fourth quarter in response to Chicago's bench, which dared him throughout the night to shoot jump shots. James appeared offended by the challenge after the game on Monday and was still shaking his head about it Wednesday.
"I understand a lot of teams would like to make me shoot jumpers and keep me out of the paint," James said. "That's what I would do if I was guarding me, but I wouldn't talk to me if I was guarding me. I would just let me play my game."
James' game has him on the verge of winning a second consecutive MVP award, but he took exception Wednesday to the criticism he receives after big games. James said he's tired of hearing he doesn't get his teammates involved on nights he has scoring outbursts.
"It kind of bothers me," James said. "I still end up with eight rebounds and eight assists. It doesn't make sense to me. I feel like my presence on the court as an individual automatically gets our teammates involved."
Teammate Anthony Parker has heard the criticisms, but dismisses them.
"If Carmelo [Anthony] has a big game, if Kobe [Bryant] has a big game, it's not the same," Parker said. "He's one of the most unselfish superstars. We know what LeBron can do and we trust him to make the right decision. If he has a game where he's feeling it, we trust him to score."