Asked if a Warriors-Cavs Finals rematch is on his mind, LeBron doesn't take the bait

Unlike Iman Shumpert and Draymond Green, LeBron James is not fueling the hype machine for a potential third straight NBA Finals matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Earlier this week, Complex published an interview with Shumpert where he said, "We gon' bust they ass," a response to Green telling NBA.com's David Aldridge a month ago that he wants to "annihilate" the Cavs if they meet again with a title on the line. On Thursday, a reporter asked James if a rematch was on his mind, and he did not take the bait, via ESPN's Dave McMenamin:

"To be completely honest, it's not," James said after Cavs shootaround Thursday prior to their game against the Los Angeles Clippers. "It would be selfish of me and foolish of me to think about playing the Warriors in another Finals. It would be disrespectful to my teammates, disrespectful to the rest of the league and disrespectful to the Warriors to even [entertain the thought]."

...

"I have zero entitlement on this journey," James continued. "It's always a process for me. The Warriors are a great team. They assembled great players in Draymond [Green] and Klay [Thompson] and Steph [Curry] and KD and the rest of those guys, and obviously they have a great coach in Steve Kerr, but it would be foolish of me and disrespectful to myself, to my teammates and to the rest of the competition to just put ourselves in a third matchup with them. And I haven't even fantasized about it. I haven't thought about it. It's too long of a season.

"It's too much work to be done for me to put myself in that mind frame. But they're a great team. We're a team that wants to get better every day and become a great team as well. So, we'll see what happens. But I haven't even thought about it at all."

LeBron James and Stephen Curry in the Finals
LeBron says it's 'foolish' to think ahead right now. USATSI

So, while the rest of the basketball world is looking forward to these titans clashing on Christmas Day, discussing potential strategies and matchup problems that Kevin Durant's presence changes and doesn't change, James hasn't given any of this a single thought? Are we really supposed to buy that?

Yes and no.

It's impossible to imagine James not devoting even a tiny bit of brain power to solving this new Warriors problem. Outside of his own moves away from Cleveland and then back to it, Durant going to Golden State was the single biggest free-agent story in NBA history. James must have at least talked about this casually, even if it's not an everyday topic of discussion in the Cavs locker room.

On the other hand, James knows that you can't just fast-forward back to the Finals, and that simple fact is one of the biggest challenges that elite teams face throughout the regular season. His quote might be a message to his own team as much as to the media: the focus must be on the journey, not the destination. Some title-winners have a championship hangover the following year, some have trouble finding motivation to play hard against bad teams. James knows all about these challenges, and his job is to lead Cleveland through them.

Even if James is secretly watching every single Warriors game and obsessing over finding their weaknesses, it would not be wise to say so. And if he is, in fact, actually managing to stay in the moment, then congratulations to him. It surely can't be easy.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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