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NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS v HAWKS


May 23, 2015


LeBron James


CLEVELAND, OHIO: Practice Day

Q.  (No microphone) not to get lulled into a false sense of security when you win on the road like that?
LeBRON JAMES:  Nope.  We're just as desperate as we were in Game 1 and Game 2.  We've got a lot to continue to prove to ourselves what we can accomplish, and we look forward to our challenge tomorrow.

Q.  I would assume that's been your message to the guys already?
LeBRON JAMES:  They know my message.  They know where I stand.  They know how I approach each and every game.  It's not about winning two, it's about winning one.  And tomorrow protecting our home court, which we've been very successful with doing so far, but that's not a guarantee.  That's nothing.  We've got to show up and show that we can play and play at a high level.

Q.  You preached defense all year long, and there were times when that wasn't really a strength in your group.  But during the playoffs it's defense first that really mattered.  What's changed, or what do you like about the defense right now?
LeBRON JAMES:  It's the commitment, the commitment to the game plan, first of all, that the coaches give us, and we go out and we execute it.  We execute at a high level.  We cover for one another.  It's not always perfect, but we're communicating and flying around and helping each other, and that's resulted in us being in the position that we're in today.

Q.  LeBron, last night you indicated you didn't know you'd get there defensively at times during the season.  At what point did you realize you could get there?
LeBRON JAMES:  I think the additions that we added definitely helped us be able to be more dynamic.  Adding J.R. and Shump and those guys in there, we kind of changed some of our defensive schemes.  I think our coaching staff did a great job of doing that and seeing what better fits our team at that point in time.
From that point, we just startedto get a rhythm of how we wanted to play defensively, how we wanted to cover for one another, but it all started with communication, and the communications continue to get better and better every month, which is how comfortable we're getting with each other.

Q.  How does Kyle Korver being out affect anything you guys do defensively?  Does it change your game plan at all?
LeBRON JAMES:  Not at all.  Not at all.  No matter who's in the lineup for them, we're going to approach the game the same way we did in Game 1 and Game 2, try to attack them defensively, try to make them do things that they don't like to do.  Even though they're a great offensive team, we just try to keep them off balance, keep pressure on them, make them take contested shots.  When they drive, contest the shot.  Versus a high powered offense like them, you really can't stop them, just try to contain them, try to make it tougher on them than they usually see.

Q.  What's the most important thing to keep the ball from getting thrown inside the way they like to do?
LeBRON JAMES:  I guess you try to put pressure on the ball.  That's all.  They're very precise with their passing.  We know that.  And they've been that all year.  They've been that throughout the postseason.  We just try to make it a little bit tougher when the ball is moved from one side to the other.
We know they're going to emphasize that.  That's where they've been successful all year.  We know that.  If it happens, that's okay.  We just have to be there.  If the ball gets from one side to the other, we have to be there to contain both sides of the floor.  We've been doing that so far.

Q.  In February, when you first said that this team was maybe good enough to win a Championship, you guys didn't play defense like you play now.  Then were you wondering, thinking that you could get there or hoping you could get there?
LeBRON JAMES:  I think with the pieces we had, I felt like, if we continued to get better, we could compete for a Championship.  I really truly believe that, and I've always preached that around here.  If we work our championship habits both on and off the floor, we give ourselves the best possible chance to compete.  Obviously, I still think that today.
We have a great group of guys that just love to play, that love to work, and true professionals about what it means to come to work every day and be great.  It's helped us on our floor be better.

Q.¬† Are you aware at all about the verdict in the police‑‑ in the 2012 police shooting case from this morning?
LeBRON JAMES:  I am aware of the verdict.  I'm not fully aware of all the details.  I'm not going to elaborate or comment too much on it because I don't speak upon something that I'm not fully knowledgeable about.  It's not where I stand.  Obviously, I'm going to take a look at it and read upon it, and if I get more knowledge about it, then I may give a statement.  I may say something.
But all I saw today was the verdict, and that's all I know about it.

Q.  Getting away from the actual verdict, downtown right now it's very calm.  With everything going on in the city now and then just kind of the temperament of the country in general, do you have any kind of message on just the community at large remaining calm?
LeBRON JAMES:  Violence is not the answer, and it's all about trying to find a solution, for good or for bad.  In any case, anything that goes on in our world, the only people we should be worried about is the families that's lost loved ones.  You can't get them back.  You can never get them back.  We should worry about the families and how they're doing and things of that nature.
For the city of Cleveland, let's use our excitement or whatever passion we have for our sport tomorrow, for the game tomorrow night.  Bring it tomorrow night.  As our team, we try to do our best to give it back to them.

Q.  Do you believe that the success of any team, a mature team in these rounds, can have any tangible, meaningful impact on a city that's going through a crisis like this?
LeBRON JAMES:  I think so.  I think sports in general, no matter what city it is, something that's going through a city that's very dramatic, traumatizing or anything of that case, I think sports is one of the biggest healers in helping a city out.
Sports just does something to people, either if you're a player, if you're a fan, if you just have something that has anything to do with that city, you just feel a certain way about rooting for a team that you love that can get your mind off some of the hardships that may be going on throughout your life or in that particular time period.  It just does that.

Q.¬† Is that part of the‑‑ all of the reason for you to come back.¬† But is that something that you also felt about, not just this trial specifically, but just this can help the city in some way?¬† Whether you can articulate it or not.¬† Do you know what I mean?
LeBRON JAMES:  Well, I know my position.  I know my power.  I know my responsibility.  I take it very seriously.  So whatever ways I'm able to affect anyone's life for the greater good, I'm blessed, and I'm happy I'm able to do that.  I don't take it for granted.

Q.  They had you mic'd last night up at the end, and you told Kyrie, I've got your back.  We talked the last couple of days about playing through injuries and, if you're at 50 percent, you're out there.  What message did you have for him or what, I guess, were your thoughts on him resting last night?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† I mean, for Kyrie, he has to‑‑ obviously, he didn't feel like what he was going to be able to do was going to help the team.¬† He felt like he was going to hurt the team.¬† That's the only reason he would sit out, he felt like he was going to hurt the team.
So I told him before the game, that's why we're a team.  That's why it's next man up, and that's what I'm here for.  I got your back, and whatever decision that you decide to make, know that we're ready for you whenever you decide to come back, whenever you're ready physically and mentally to come back.  That's what it was about.

Q.¬† When you were here the first time, it felt like you had to do it all by yourself a lot of times.¬† You articulated that.¬† It would appear, by losing Kevin and by losing Kyrie, that you might have those same feelings, but it looks like‑‑ did you ever feel that way?¬† Obviously, you've had a ton of guys step up at different times this time around, but did it ever feel like you were back having to do it all by yourself again?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† I never felt that I had to do it by myself, even in the past.¬† Mentally, I just wasn't who I am today.¬† I wasn't as‑‑ my hard drive wasn't as big as it is today in the past.¬† That's all it comes from.
I'm able to handle a lot of situations that I wasn't able to handle at 24 and 25 and 23 years old.¬† I let‑‑ I just tried to do it by just playing the game of basketball, by just going out and just playing.¬† That's such a small dosage of what the game is all about.¬† The mental side is way more important than the physical and going out and playing basketball.¬† So that's where it comes from.

Q.  Is it just from growing up?  Was that from anything specific in Miami?  How did that expand?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Just growth.¬† Just every experience that you have in life is the best teacher.¬† You go through so much, you just know how to‑‑ the next time it comes upon you, you know how to approach it.
Just like I told you guys in Game 1, I hated the way I play isolation basketball.  I wouldn't do it again.  I was put in the same position in Game 2 where we got up big and the ball was going to be in my hands in the fourth quarter.  I did not play isolation basketball.  It's just growth.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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