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LeBron James on the 'great' debate? Just wait

Miami Heat forward LeBron James shoots over San

Miami Heat forward LeBron James shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard during the first half in Game 1 of the NBA basketball finals on Thursday, June 5, 2014, in San Antonio. Credit: AP / Eric Gay

SAN ANTONIO - LeBron James isn't down with the whole legacy discussion, the outside chatter about the Heat superstar's eventual place in NBA lore.

It's almost as if he would rather have a root canal -- without anesthesia.

In James' estimation, discussing his potential landing spot among the league's all-time greats is pointless. In fact, he thinks it's downright silly.

"I feel that it is," he said Thursday night before tipoff of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Heat and Spurs. "While guys are still trying to define what they want to accomplish in their careers, to talk about it now is stupid. Let guys play out their years, play the way they want to play out on the floor."

James believes there's a larger plan for him in life, something deeper than just dribbling and shooting a basketball. That's why he wants to be judged on things that don't center around his skills on the court.

"For me, the legacy isn't just basketball," James said. "I think people get caught up in what you do on the floor, what you do on the gridiron, what you do on the diamond and so on and so on, and just to define your legacy by how you just play the sport. I think my calling is much bigger than just basketball. So to say what my legacy is on the floor and just say that's all it is, I think that's stupid."

There's certainly nothing stupid about what the Spurs and Heat have accomplished.

San Antonio is in the midst of what the locals have dubbed "The Drive For Five," their quest for that fifth Larry O'Brien Trophy, which would further cement the Spurs' Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili as one of the best of their era.

The Spurs are making their sixth Finals appearances in 16 seasons, a product of posting 15 consecutive campaigns of 50-plus wins and establishing themselves as one of the league's most consistent franchises.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich can vault himself into an even more elite club if the Spurs can avenge last year's Finals loss to the Heat. Only four coaches -- Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley and John Kundla -- have won five or more titles. Joining that exclusive club would solidify Popovich's status as one of the most brilliant coaches to grace the sidelines.

Duncan insists he doesn't ponder what kind of mark the Spurs are leaving on the league, underscoring that it's something he'll determine when he's hung up his sneakers for good.

"As I said, I think there will be time for that, time to look back on that once everything is over," Duncan said. "For now, all I'm focusing on is trying to get another one. Doesn't matter if it's four, five, two or one before. This is the only one that counts right now and this is the only one that's in my head right now."

As for the Heat, Miami is only the third franchise in league history to make four or more consecutive appearances in the Finals, joining the Celtics (1957-1966, 1984-87) and Lakers (1982-85).

Still, it hasn't been all that easy for James & Co. to enjoy their current stretch. It started with the over-the-top news conference when they formed their Big Three with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and talked openly about winning multiple titles.

"They kind of just run together," James said. "I mean, when you are in it, it's kind of hard to sit back and say what you've accomplished and what you've done. I've always felt once we're done playing the game as an individual, you will be able to look back at the fun you had and enjoy what you've accomplished as a team, as an individual.

"But while you are in it, you are just living it."

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