MIAMI — The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat held practices and met the media Wednesday afternoon at AmericanAirlines Arena, a day before they’ll tip off The Finals. It’s the first Finals meeting between the two franchises who have made it this far a total of nine times now.
But it’s the second time that the Spurs have faced LeBron James in The Finals. San Antonio swept James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007. So, that’s a storyline.
But really, it’s kind of ridiculous to compare 2007 LeBron James with 2013 LeBron James. He might have had 50 percent of his current game back then. Beyond that, he didn’t have the experience that he has now, the teammates that he has now, or the offensive system that the Heat employ to make the most of his ridiculous talent.
The Spurs are much different too. They play a different offensive system themselves, leaning on pick-and-rolls more than post-ups. And they’ve made defensive adjustments over the years as well.
Still, how things are different was a question asked by many people to many others on Wednesday. Here’s what James had to say…
On the difference in himself: “Just smarter. A lot smarter. More experienced. Older. More mature both on and off the floor. And I think that’s the most important thing. I’ve matured as a basketball player. I’ve matured as a man. And it has allowed my game to sprout.”
On how the Spurs defended him then: “They went under my pick-and-rolls and dared me to shoot. Back in ’07, I ran a lot of pick-and-rolls. They funneled me to the sideline with [Tim] Duncan and [Fabricio] Oberto and Bruce Bowen and Michael Finley. Those guys funneled me to the sideline and dared me to shoot it, and didn’t allow me to get to the paint, where I did most of my damage in ’07.
“If you go under my pick-and-roll now, I’m going to shoot. And I’m confident I’m going to make every last one of them.
“At the same time, I also have a lot more weapons this time around, going against this team, where in ’07, they loaded three guys to me a lot on the strong side of the floor.
“I’m a better player and you can’t dare me to do anything I don’t want to do in 2013.”