SAN ANTONIO - Still befuddled that his comments sparked a mini-outrage among the Heat's contingent and how LeBron James took them as an indicator of the Spurs' hatred for the two-time defending champions, Tim Duncan remained incredulous Wednesday.
On the eve of their series opener with Miami, and four days after nonchalantly uttering how the Spurs were going to get it done this time around during an on-court postgame television interview, Duncan once again was having a hard time understanding what was so inflammatory about his words.
"I don't know what I said that was so bad," Duncan said after practice at the AT&T Center. "Everybody keeps talking about it . . . 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."
San Antonio has been running on high octane itself for months now, eager for another crack at the Heat after last year's disheartening Finals loss.
Even Gregg Popovich, the normally reserved Spurs coach, has openly admitted he's frequently thought about every play in Game 6 of the Heat's crazy comeback, underscoring how he replays some of those moments in his head daily.
The Spurs seemed to have it all under control, up five with 28.2 seconds remaining. But then Ray Allen drained that incredible game-tying three-pointer, and San Antonio never recovered. That unthinkable Spurs collapse led many to believe San Antonio choked it away rather than feeling as if James & Co. earned it, something that draws the ire of the Heat superstar and bothers Miami immensely.
"Absolutely. I can't sit here and lie to you," James said. "We feel slighted in the fact that the game . . . [the series] went seven. It went seven. It wasn't like it was 3-0 and, you know, they had us in Game 4 and we took it and won four straight. If you look at the numbers, look at the numbers, the lead changes, the ties and the points in that series, it's almost even. So we did our part, they did their part.
"Both teams put themselves in a position to win an NBA championship, and we just happened to make one or two more plays to win it. But at the end of the day it doesn't take away what we did to win last year, but that's last year. Last year is last year and we're excited about it, but this trophy this year belongs to nobody. It's up for grabs."
In a sense, that's the message Popovich has preached to his team leading into this rematch. Spurs guard Tony Parker said they didn't watch any footage of the final two games of last year's Finals over these past few days.
Then again, if they did, what good would it do now anyway? San Antonio is already salivating at the thought of meeting the Heat again in one of the most highly anticipated Finals in recent memory.
"It's a new series," Parker said. "It's a new series. We're playing the best team in the NBA the last two years, and it's going to be a heck of a challenge, and we have a great opportunity to try to beat them."