"You don't get here alone," Stern says of the team effort. LeBron James couldn't have gotten the Cavs to the Finals by himself.
Commissioner David Stern does not have a rooting interest in the NBA Finals. But he had high praise for the newcomers to the big dance before Game 1 on Thursday.
“The Cavaliers have demonstrated an enormous amount of growth to the world in the course of these playoffs,” Stern said.
Interest peaked during the Eastern Conference finals when the Cavs came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Detroit in six games. LeBron James’ string of 25 straight points at the end of Game 5 was arguably the biggest highlight, but no one can downplay moments such as Daniel Gibson’s five 3-pointers and 31 points in the series clincher.
“There’s been a lot of media coverage about LeBron, but you don’t get here alone,” Stern said. “Not even the greatest of the great get here alone.”
FUELING THE FINALS
Spurs legend David Robinson said having a player such as James in the finals is great for the NBA.
“LeBron is about as marketable a person as you will find in the league at this time,” Robinson said. “He brings a lot of energy and excitement to this, which I really think has been needed over the past couple of years.”
Robinson still does not know if the Finals will live up to the hype that has been generated since the Cavs won the Eastern Conference title.
“But I think it’s a step in the right direction for the NBA. You’re establishing a guy who’s on a Michael Jordan level.”
James woke up Thursday and felt no different than he has on other game days.
“We don’t approach any series or any game any differently than we’ve been doing all year,” James said. “We do understand this is the biggest stage, but at the same time it’s still 48 minutes, it’s still one basketball and there are two great teams out there trying to compete. We have to approach it that way.”
James had a typically normal day for himself. “We had shootaround this morning, I took my nap and I came to the arena,” he said. “Nothing different.”
The Cavs gave starting point guard Larry Hughes a couple of days off so he could rest the sore left foot he injured during the Eastern Conference finals. He was in the starting lineup for Game 1.
NO SURPRISES NOW
Tim Duncan expected Cavs Head Coach Mike Brown, a former Spurs assistant, to prepare the Cavs well for the Finals. But he said the beauty of the Finals is there are not many secrets.
“There are not too many things you’re going to sneak people with,” Duncan said. “You have to execute your stuff, you have to bring the effort and you have to be able to play well.”
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org