SAN ANTONIO - LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can point to statistics showing just how close the 2013 NBA Finals were.
Tim Duncan doesn't need them.
He can't forget the way his San Antonio Spurs lost, especially since every replay brings another painful reminder. The Spurs were on the verge of celebrating a fifth title in Game 6, and just two nights later were congratulating the Miami Heat on their second straight crown.
The Spurs wanted a rematch, and so did basketball fans. It begins tonight in San Antonio.
"I think it's great that these two franchises have this opportunity in back-to-back years to compete for a championship," Wade said Wednesday. "Last year was an unbelievable series and ... it went down to the very end. We won the series by a total of five points, you know? That's how close it was. But it was a very even series. I think this year it could be another great series."
From Tony Parker's circus shot that stole Game 1 for the Spurs, to Ray Allen's 3-pointer that saved Game 6 for the Heat, to James' jumper that put away Game 7, almost every contest provided a new highlight. It deserved an encore, just like when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers seemed to pick up right where they left off in the 1980s.
The NBA hasn't had a finals rematch since 1998, when Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls beat Utah for the second straight season. San Antonio is considered a slight favorite this time, perhaps a little deeper, healthier and better than it was last year, and owning the home-court advantage this time.
The Spurs don't need to change much to change the result. They outscored the Heat 684-679 over seven games, and there were 47 ties and 42 lead changes, according to STATS.
Duncan, a three-time NBA Finals MVP who had been 4 for 4 at this stage, wasn't on the floor when the Spurs couldn't come up with a rebound just before Allen's shot. He then missed a shot and follow attempt from right in front of the basket in the final minute of Game 7 with San Antonio trailing by two. Not even getting back to the finals again with the league's best record can make him forget.
"It lasts. I have a very good memory, especially for my misses and losses. You keep those, you learn from them and you hope to change them next time," Duncan said.