MIAMI The Heat will enjoy as much as possible being handed rings Tuesday night. But they would find it a lot more fun if the Charlotte Bobcats were in town.
Instead, the Miami players, after getting their championship bling from NBA commissioner David Stern, will have to face Boston in the regular-season opener at AmericanAirlines Arena. Yes, the Celtics who are still seething from losing to Heat last June in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
I wish that was one of the rule changes, said Heat guard Dwyane Wade. I wish we could do it the night before.
For now, NBA officials are much more worried about flopping. But the league at least this time is allowing teams a 15-minute warm-up period after the lengthy ring ceremony rather than making them come out to play immediately.
Still, its not going to be easy for the Heat, who, after dispatching Boston, beat Oklahoma City 4-1 in last Junes NBA Finals. They remember how they felt about losing to the Mavericks in the 2011 Finals, and then getting a chance for some revenge in last year's opener at Dallas.
Its a lot of motivation, Heat forward Chris Bosh said about winning that game 105-94. That was the team that beat us and put us out, and its kind of that same instance with Boston, so we know theyre going to be fired up I dont want to make (Tuesdays pre-game ceremony) this big thing because usually teams get smashed on their ring ceremony night.
Actually, they dont. Of the past 13 teams to have won NBA titles, 10 actually won their opener the next season at home.
But the Heat dont have good memories. After winning the NBA crown in 2006, they were crushed 108-66 by Chicago on ring night to open the next season.
Getting your rings at the beginning of the season is a great thing, but also it will hurt some teams as well because it does put you back in that laid-back mode in a sense, said Wade, who remains from the first Miami title team as does forward Udonis Haslem and coach Erik Spoelstra, then an assistant. And youre ready to move forward, but it kind of takes you back. But you got to live in the moment from last year.
One guy who apparently didnt have a problem with that was Heat guard Ray Allen, who won a title with Boston in 2008. The Celtics beat Cleveland 90-85 on ring night the next season.
We all looked forward to it and then opening night we talked about it, but we didnt let it have a hangover on that game, Allen said. We had a pretty good game that night.
Allen initially wasnt looking forward to Tuesday considering hes in the odd position of having been with the Celtics last season before signing with Miami as a free agent. But hes since come to grips with it.
Ive been around these guys long enough, its just a moment to be happy for them, Allen said. Maybe like a month or two ago, you think about it like, Wow, thats weird because Im still getting over thinking about my last season Im thinking about who beat us and Im on the team that beat us. So Ive got over it now to the point where you can say you can celebrate their success.
Allen said during the ceremony hell stand off to the side. Then hell seek to put a picture idea in his mind about this is where we want to be next year.
As for Heat forward LeBron James, he never has claimed to have done any visualizing about ring ceremonies.
Winning it was what I dreamed of, said James, who claimed his first title in his ninth NBA season. I never dreamed of actually having the ring ceremony. I never dreamed of that. Ive never had that dream. So Im just like whatever. I think its going to be a special night and Im going to be excited for it. But the game is what Im more focused on than actually receiving the ring.
Nobody has to worry about James losing his focus. As for anybody else, it remains to be seen.
Spoelstra will do what he can. He plans to discuss with his players the need to be able to quickly put the emotion of the ceremony behind them.
Its a celebration for 15 minutes, and then you have to put your mouthguard in, pads up and you have to get into the battle, and its not necessarily natural to do that, Spoelstra said. But thats the way it is. We cant control it and we dont want to demean (the ceremony). We want to honor it as well. But well talk about it and prepare for it the day before.
After all, the Heat hardly looked prepared in their 2006-07 opener. They fell behind 59-30 to the Bulls at halftime and that was the game.
The ceremony was fine, but I think the way that night ended, it kind of threw a curtain over the ceremony and overshadowed the ring ceremony because we got beat so badly and we performed so poorly, Haslem said.
If it happens again and the Heat win another title, they really might push for the ring ceremony to be moved to the night before.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson