Question: You're smiling, so you already know the first question. Are you glad you're facing your old team in the Heat?
Answer: “Somewhat, yeah. I'm looking forward to it. It just feels good to be in the Finals. We prepared to play anybody, but you always feel a lot better going against your old team.”
When the Heat traded you two summers ago to free up cap space to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh, were you angry at the time?
“Not really. Not angry, not confused at all. After it happened, I talked to (president) Pat Riley and said it was the best decision not just for the team but for myself. He just put me in a better situation.”
The Thunder had a tough first year here with 23 wins. You had an even worse first year with the Heat (2007-08) winning just 15 games. Do you ever bring that up with any of your current teammates?
“Oh, yeah. Yeah. Me and KD (Kevin Durant) talk about it because we came in the league together. Both our teams made quick turnarounds and made it to the playoffs the following year.”
You and Heat rookie point guard Norris Cole were teammates growing up in Dayton, Ohio.
“We were teammates from seventh grade all the way through high school. We were one year apart. Same middle school (Fairview), same high school (Dunbar). He played varsity from 10th grade through the 12th. I played ninth grade through 12th. We played together two years in high school. He actually was a really good quarterback, then he switched it over and started playing basketball. He started at point guard the year we won the state title.”
You averaged 27-plus points so were the main guy, right?
“To be honest, he (Cole) was the main factor why we won state. He stepped up big for us his junior year. He played a major role.”
You were the one with all the scholarship offers. Was Cole accepting that you were “the guy”?
“Yeah, yeah. No question. He knew that and understood that and knew his time would come his senior year.”
Cleveland State was the only Division I school to offer Cole?
“They might have offered him a full academic scholarship as well because he had 4-point something GPA. He was up there.”
Have you touched base since the Finals were set?
“I texted him (Saturday) night and said, ‘Congratulations.' That was about it. Our high school (Pete Pullen) and middle school (Jamesetta Taylor) have been calling us. They're trying to get out here to watch us play either here or Miami.”
When Cole arrived with the Heat this year, people were surprised early how good he was. Were you?
“Oh, no. Not at all. I had seen him throughout college and I played with him. I knew what he had. He's just a very aggressive player.”