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Continued: Five questions about the NBA Finals

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 6, 2013 - 12:04 PM

Q Has it really been six years?

AYes, it has.

James was just 22 then when his Cavaliers met the Spurs in the 2007 Finals.

That was then, this is…

“That was like ancient history,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He was basically a neophyte at the time, wondering how all this stuff worked and how it’s put together. We were very fortunate at that time to get him so early. At this point, he has grown. He doesn’t care what y’all say. He knows basketball better than everybody put together in this room. He goes and plays the game and does what’s necessary.

“So he’ll be a lot more of a problem than he was in ’07. That’s for sure.”

James now has one title ring and is working on collecting that handful he playfully promised when he and his talents left Cleveland for South Beach in 2010.

“A lot smarter, more experienced, older,” James said. “I think that’s the most important thing, I’ve matured as a basketball player.”

Q Will James defend Parker?

  

A You bet.

But who knows, he might defend Duncan some, too.

That’s why teammates call James “1 through 5,” a guy who felt snubbed when he didn’t win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year but still can — and will — guard everybody from point guard to center.

“We’ll see it how it plays out,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s our Super Glue. Wherever we need to put him, he’ll make it work.”

Many other teams have put taller, bigger players on Parker, usually in futile attempts to counter his pick-and-roll precision and slow his attacks to the basket. But no other team has a defender as versatile as James.

“We’ll see if they are going to do that,” Parker said, “but I’m kind of used to it.”

 

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