Lakers' LeBron James: There's No Extra Motivation to Beating Heat in NBA Finals

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorSeptember 29, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James directs a play against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James won two NBA championships and four Eastern Conference titles during his tenure with the Miami Heat from 2010-11 to 2013-2014.

He'll face his former team in the Finals beginning Wednesday.

"It's no extra meaning to winning a championship, no matter who you're playing against," James said Tuesday, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "It's already hard enough to even reach the Finals, to be in this position. If you're able to become victorious out of the Finals, it doesn't matter who it's against."

James also offered kind words about his former allies in Heat president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra. He said Riley is "one of the greatest minds probably this game has ever had" and that Spoelstra doesn't get enough respect.

"He's damned good, if not great," James said of the latter. "Probably is great because of his preparation."

This Finals appearance marks James' 10th. He's won three: two with the Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

Lakers big man Anthony Davis compared James' previous Finals trips to this one.

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"To be back in the Finals against Miami, I think, means a lot more to him winning this than anyone else," Davis said. "I think this championship is probably second behind Cleveland, being able to get this one for him."

Davis also talked about the significance of the Finals given the circumstances surrounding the 2019-20 season, which included a four-and-a-half month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-two teams then finished the campaign at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, before the playoffs began.

"I think this one is going to be a tough one," Davis said. "People said it's going to be the toughest championship in NBA history from a mental standpoint just because of the circumstances."

James agreed:

"It's probably been the most challenging thing I've ever done as far as a professional, as far as committing to something and actually making it through. But I knew when I was coming what we were coming here for. I would be lying if I sat up here and knew that everything inside the bubble, the toll that it would take on your mind and your body and everything else, because it's been extremely tough. But I'm here for one reason and one reason only, and that's to compete for a championship."

The Lakers have dominated in the postseason, winning each of their playoff series in five games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets.

They'll face a team that has fared just as well in the playoffs with a matching 12-3 record. Miami swept the Indiana Pacers before beating the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in five games. The Heat finished off the Boston Celtics in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Game 1 of the Finals is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET Wednesday and will be televised on ABC.