|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2014||[Print without images]|
MIAMI -- LeBron James heard Tim Duncan's comments when the NBA Finals rematch was finally set and fully understood them, even though he wasn't bothered by them.
After the San Antonio Spurs clinched a meeting with the Miami Heat, Duncan made a strong statement when he said: "We're excited about it. We've got four more to win. We'll do it this time."
James said he wasn't bothered by the comments and called the entire Spurs organization "professional," but he certainly understood the message being sent.
"They don't like us, they don't. I can sense it from Timmy's comments over the last couple of days," James said after the Heat held an extended practice on Monday. "They wanted this, they wanted us and we'll be ready for the challenge."
After blowing a five-point lead in the final minute of Game 6 last season when the Larry O'Brien Trophy had been wheeled to the edge of the court and yellow tape prepared for the postgame celebration, the Spurs have lived with the disappointment for a year. Which is why Duncan added: "We're happy it's the Heat again. We've got that bad taste in our mouths still."
"[Duncan's comments] don't bother me. Once you get on the floor, you've got to play. We're confident. We're not shying away from them. We want them, too," James said. "I don't think it's personal. Like they said, we left a sour taste in their mouth."
Unlike in the last round when the Heat ended up in a frustrating back-and-forth with the Indiana Pacers, particularly Lance Stephenson, there was no edge in James' tone. After getting back to the Finals in 2012 after a bitter loss the previous year, James can relate to the Spurs and is taking a very level-headed approach into the series.
"They've been preparing for this moment, we have as well," James said. "No one is entitled. This is no one's championship. It isn't ours, it isn't theirs, it's two teams fighting for it."