The Miami Heat will receive their championship rings on Opening Night before their game against the Chicago Bulls. And shortly after that they'll begin the quest for their third straight piece of hardware.
LeBron James and company have done this before, seeing as they're now two-time defending champions, but because of that they also know that it can be difficult to readjust to the game after the team's video montage is played and rings are handed out in front of a likely sold-out, raucous home crowd.
"It is what it is. There's nothing we can do about it," James said to reporters on Sunday. "We get them on Tuesday and we get ready to play. It's definitely something that you would rather do and take care of last year, this is like a new year. But after we get our rings that was last year and we go from there."
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It was a historical season for James, who won the NBA MVP before also taking home NBA Finals MVP honors as the Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs in an epic seven-game series. The Heat understand that they accomplished plenty last season and that it deserves its own acknowledgement, but once that's over it's a blank slate for the team as they turn the calendar to the 2013-14 schedule.
"We did some special things last year and this is an opportunity for us to look back at it one more time," said James, who averaged 22.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists in the Finals, "but I definitely won't lose sight of what's in front of me."
Guard Dwyane Wade said he'd prefer the rings be handed out the night before so the reigning champions have all night to focus on the game, joking that the NBA would still make money if the event was covered on NBA TV for everyone to see. Tuesday night it will be the Bulls that the Heat must prepare for following their ring ceremony, and Wade said the Heat will be ready.
"It'll be a great challenge for us opening up against the Bulls, a team that's very hungry to prove themselves this year," he said. "The great story line with D-Rose coming back and two teams that really don't like each other. So it'll be great story lines, a great game and a great moment for the [Heat] organization."
Last year the Heat beat the Boston Celtics, 120-107, after receiving their championship rings from the 2011-12 season.
The Heat are favorites to win a third straight NBA title, and while their sole focus will be on doing just that once the ball tips, Spoelstra said they want to recognize what the 2012-13 team did.
"We know about the emotions our guys will feel and we don't want to disregard it, disrespect it," the Heat head coach said. "We had to go through a lot to enjoy that moment so we do want to share it together and embrace it, buit it'll also be a culmination and a symbol for us to move on."