Tim Duncan wants his fifth NBA title so badly he’s willing to venture out of character to secure it.
The rugged, typically stoic Hall of Fame bound power forward threw what amounts to the first elbow in declaring “we’re happy that it’s the Heat.” The San Antonio Spurs will be facing the Heat in the NBA Finals set to commence Thursday night at the AT&T Center.
In dramatic fashion, the Heat rallied from a 3-2 series deficit last year to capture the second of their back-to-back titles, setting up what some are touting as the most intense rematch since the days of Ali vs. Frazier. And all the layered plot-lines are proving to be every bit as thick as all the emotions.
Manufactured anger or not, four-time league MVP LeBron James spent much of Wednesday’s media session insisting how much the defending champs feel disrespected by Duncan’s words in particular and the Spurs actions in general.
“We feel slighted,” James said of all the talk emanating from the San Antonio locker room about how they feel last year’s title was theirs for the taking and the champs simply lucked out.
“I can’t sit here and lie to you, we do,” he added. “It went seven games, it wasn’t like it was 3-0 and they had us in Game 4 and we took it and won four straight. If you look at the numbers, look at the numbers, the lead changes, the ties and the points in that series, it’s almost even.”
Perhaps a bit more diplomatically Dwyane Wade essentially echoed his star sidekick’s sentiments.
“The ball bounces in funny ways,” Wade said of the Heat rallying from five-points down with less than 30 seconds remaining in Game 6, largely on the strength of Ray Allen’s miraculous, game-tying three pointer. “We’re thankful for Ray Allen making that shot, but there were so many other things that had to play right for us to win that game. So you need a little luck, both ways, even to be in the Finals. We were a recipient of luck in that [Game 6] moment, but we won the championship.”
And with that Duncan was again moved to further express himself and defend his words, this time by speaking even more directly to the defending champs.
“If they need to find fuel in that, so be it,” he said. “I don’t know what I said that was so bad. We’re back here now and I want to win.”
Let the games begin.