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Eli Manning to LeBron James: Stay 'mentally strong'

LeBron James and the Miami Heat dug themselves out of a hole Thursday night by holding off a furious rally from the Oklahoma City Thunder. LeBron's 32 points helped deliver a win in Game 2 to tie up the NBA Finals, but it won't be enough. Anything less than a title, and watch as LeBron is deep-fried by the masses. Again.

It wasn't so long ago when Eli Manning couldn't do enough to please anyone in New York. People snickered as recently as last summer at the notion of Peyton's younger brother as an "elite" player.

"You can see that with LeBron and what's going on in the NBA Finals, you lose one game, they are all over. They win the second game, everybody loves him," Manning told ESPN's "Mike and Mike" radio show Friday morning. "Each week, depending (on) every game, you are either the best or you are terrible. It is so extreme. "

Said Manning: "The most important thing you can do is concentrate on being prepared for each game, being mentally strong, having the confidence in yourself that you are going to go out there and make all the plays, and when you are put in that position, you try to do it."

Manning speaks the truth. Fresh off his second Super Bowl title, the man can do no wrong in Gotham. Free steaks in every joint, a gig hosting "Saturday Night Live," and he hands out on-air advice to King James. Heady days, but fleeting.

Manning understands the dynamic. Public perception rocks and sways like a drunken boat with every pass, every basket. The hyper-analysis doesn't help (and we're guilty of that). For someone like LeBron, validation comes from somewhere else, but a little encouragement from a winning quarterback doesn't hurt.

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