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Coach Vogel Responds to LeBron James

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

May 20, 2013

With the news in the sports world yesterday of LeBron James taking exception to Pacers head coach Vogel's alleged "just another team" quote in reference to the Miami Heat, Coach Vogel responded this morning.

"Sorry sports world, the words 'just another team' never came out of my mouth," he said. "Great respect for LBJ and the champs. Looking forward to [a] great series."

Time will tell if LeBron responds and, if so, how he responds.

The Pacers will practice this afternoon after taking Sunday off to rest ahead of the Eastern Conference Finals where games will be played every other day. The series starts on Wednesday at 8:30 PM ET.

Earlier (May 19, 2013):

The Miami Heat should be talking about their team, about their quest for a championship and what they must do to beat the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, which tips-off on Wednesday in Miami.

Instead, LeBron James, a four-time MVP, was upset with remarks he believed Pacers coach Frank Vogel made Saturday night after the Pacers defeated the New York Knicks to wrap up the Second Round series. Only, he didn't.

At practice on Sunday, a reporter inaccurately passed along to James what Vogel said. James, who did note that his ears perked up when he heard it himself Saturday night, was told that "Vogel was saying last night that you guys are just another team."

Which is far from accurate. In response to looking ahead at the opportunity his team had at another shot against Miami in the playoffs, Vogel did not pass the Heat off as simply just another team.

"Oh, it's exciting," he said. "But this is not about getting back at Miami. If you're in the Final Four, you're competing for a championship. You're competing for a championship and they're just the next team that's in our way. And that's how we're approaching it."

It appears now that James and the Heat are converting this non-story into motivation, as if they needed something. The drive for another championship should be enough.

"We're not just another team," James told the gathered media in Miami. "I don't understand what he's saying. But we're not just another team. That's not true."

James continued: "He said we're just another team in their way. We're not just another team. We're a great team. We're very confident. We'll be ready for them. But if we're just another team, you really don't prepare for just another team. We're not just another team. You've got to be prepared for us."

Vogel's comments didn't have a targeted feel to them. He exuded confidence in his own team and was using the one-game-at-a-time mantra.  After finishing off the Knicks in six games, it was about his group.

Earlier in the postgame press conference, Vogel was prompted for his range of emotions over the last year because it was about this time in 2012 when the Heat ended the Pacers' season. Now, they are going to do it all over again for the right to play in the NBA Finals.

"Look at NBA history, right? Every great basketball team, every team that's on a championship journey takes steps each year, taking a step further than they were the year before. A first-round elimination team two years against the Bulls made it to the Second Round last year and got knocked out by Miami. I'm just proud of the years-long effort to take that next step. But we're not satisfied with where we're at. We feel like there's no ceiling on this team, this year. And we're looking forward to the next series."

Progress, development, confidence. That's what the Pacers are demonstrating.

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