SAN ANTONIO -- Tim Duncan can't seem to convince folks that he wasn't trying to channel Joe Namath in the euphoria of clinching a return trip to the NBA Finals.
Duncan's pleas from the interview podium did little to hush suggestions that he was finally, after all these years of holding it in, showing us his best Patrick Ewing or Rasheed Wallace.
All I can tell you, from this seat, is that the Duncan I encountered on the eve of these Finals wasn't guaranteeing anything.
After all the hubbub over his confident declaration to TNT's David Aldridge about how the Spurs intend to "do it this time" in the wake of their Finals-clinching win Saturday night in Oklahoma City, Duncan gave perhaps a truer glimpse into how much is riding on this series for him -- and how tight he expects it to be -- in an interview with ESPN Radio that will air on Thursday night's pregame show on the network.
"We're here again, and it's such a relief to be back at this point," Duncan said. "It means a whole lot, losing at the end there [in the 2013 Finals] and getting to this point again.
"I don't know if I can deal with losing again. I really want to get it done. I really have a desire for it. I'm just hoping it goes our way this time."
Not exactly braggadocious stuff.
In the interview with ESPN Radio's Marc Kestecher, Duncan reveals that he'll "never get over" San Antonio's inability to close Miami out in Game 6 or Game 7 on the Heat's floor, no matter what happens in this series.
A fifth title, though, would surely help ease the 2013 sting. Should the Spurs come through, Duncan would become just the second player in league history to win a title in three decades, joining John Salley.
Salley won titles with Detroit in 1989 and 1990, Chicago in 1996 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000. Duncan won his first ring in 1999 and added three more in a span of five seasons from 2003 to 2007.
The Spurs are also trying to become the first team to win it all with nine players born outside the United States: Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands), Tony Parker (France), Manu Ginobili (Argentina), Tiago Splitter (Brazil), Boris Diaw (France), Marco Belinelli (Italy), Patty Mills (Australia), Cory Joseph (Canada) and Aron Baynes (New Zealand). The record is six, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, set by San Antonio in 2007.
When questioned by the larger press pack at Wednesday's news conference about his comments to Aldridge and Miami's adverse reaction to them, Duncan said: "Everybody keeps talking about it. I don't know what I said that was so bad. I said I wanted to win the Finals. We're back here now, and I wanted to win. If they need to find fuel in that, so be it."