Rivers: LeBron James 'deserves it'

Updated: October 30, 2012, 7:36 PM ET
ESPNBoston.com

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked that his team would be watching the hit television series "Homeland" in the locker room while the Heat had their ring ceremony prior to Tuesday night's season opener between the Eastern Conference rivals in Miami.

But Rivers acknowledged that LeBron James and Co. deserved the honor after winning last season's NBA title.

"They get to have their day," Rivers said Tuesday morning. "We had our day and LeBron had to sit and watch that. He's probably been through several of them, now that I think of it. This time it's his payback night and he deserves it."

James admitted he was looking forward to receiving his elusive first championship ring. "I won't take this moment for granted," James said at the Heat's morning shootaround in Miami. "It doesn't happen to everyone. I know the history of the game.

"I'll live in the moment because it is not given. I know, I've seen it over and over and over as the years go on."

After carrying the Heat past the Celtics in the conference finals, James led Miami past the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals, winning a league title for the first time in his career, which started in 2003-04.

Coincidentally, James and his Cleveland Cavaliers had to witness the Celtics hang their 17th championship banner in the TD Garden rafters on opening night in 2008. The Celtics defeated the Cavs in the Eastern Conference semifinals en route to the 2007-08 title.

How will the Heat respond on what is sure to be an emotional night for them? Rivers remembers being moved by the Celtics' opening night ceremony in 2008.

"When Paul (Pierce) started crying, I remembered turning to my assistant coach and saying, 'We have no chance tonight,' instead of thinking about how nice it was that he was emotional," Rivers said.

The Celtics actually won that game 90-85 after trailing by seven points at halftime. After the Heat won the 2005-06 NBA title, they got blown out on the night they got their rings at the start of the 2006-07 season, losing to the Chicago Bulls by 42 points.

Dwyane Wade was on that team, and will participate in his second ring ceremony Tuesday night.

"I am not a good example of the ring ceremony, so I keep my mouth shut," Wade said Tuesday. "I don't want to relive that moment. We didn't do it right, so I can't give nobody any advice. If anything, do the opposite of what we did."

As for what he expects Tuesday night from his team, Rivers said he anticipated it would be a building block to better things, not a pinnacle.

"Whatever you do tonight, hopefully it's not the best night of the year," he said. "That's the way I always look at opening night. It's a season of building and it's a process you have to go through. After the game is over, it's just one game.

"Obviously you're playing Miami and you add in the Ray (Allen) component to that, even though I don't think it means as much as people think it does. ... I'm sure we'll be up and they'll be up, but I guarantee (Heat coach) Erik (Spoelstra) will say the same thing. If this is your best game of the year, then you're in trouble."

Rivers said he hasn't spoken with Allen in Miami and didn't say whether he intended to. Allen will be facing the Celtics for the first time since joining the Heat in the offseason, despite receiving a more lucrative offer from Boston.

As for the makeup of his starting lineup for Tuesday's opener, Rivers was mum.

"We'll tell it later," he said. "It's no big deal but we'll tell it later."

ESPN.com NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh contributed to this report.

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