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June 1, 2016

LeBron James

Oakland, California: Practice Day

Q. LeBron, Stephen was just asked about whether or not he cares about being the face of the league and supplanting LeBron James or not supplanting. Where are you on that? Do you care? And is it something that means something to you to be thought of as the face of the league?
LEBRON JAMES: First of all, I think what I care about is being fortunate to be a part of this league. I have no sense of entitlement to be in this league. This is a fraternity, and for me to even be a part of the 40-plus guys that we have in our league, I think it's an honor, and that's what I focus on. I also focus on being a role model to the youth that looks up to me and what I'm able to do not only on the court but off the court.

So me having the power for our youth to see better light or whatever the case may be, that's what I love more than anything. So if that comes with my name or whatever I do on a day-to-day basis that the youth get to see how it should be done or how to take advantage of any situation they're in, I'm okay with that.

Q. I know you're versed in the history of the league and the rivalries that came before you. What's it like for you to forge these new experiences? You've had multiple Finals against Tim Duncan, for example, going against Steph Curry this time again. What's it like to be in the middle of this?
LEBRON JAMES: I think it's great. It's great for our game. It's great for you as an individual, just the competitive side of it, to be able to face greats along your path is something that you're going to wish you could get back when you're done playing.

Like you said, I've been fortunate to go against Duncan, and K.G. and Ray Allen and the great Piston team. Now Steph, the great Steph and the Warriors team. So I've been fortunate. I don't want to leave out Dirk, as well. I faced Dirk in The Finals and faced K.D. and Russ. So I've been very fortunate to go against some of the greatest players in their era, in my era, and we'll see after the era when I'm done.

Q. On Friday you spoke a lot about this newfound appreciation you have this postseason for what you've been able to accomplish. For most people getting to that new mindset is the result of specific events or conversations or just thoughts. I'm just wondering what prompted you specifically this off-season to get to this new mindset.
LEBRON JAMES: It's not a new mindset. I think people are taking it a little further than where it should be. Something just -- it was a feeling I was after we won in Game 6 in Toronto, and that's how I was feeling at that moment. I'm back to my usual self.

Q. No longer thankful?
LEBRON JAMES: I'm no longer appreciating what I've been able to do (laughing).

Q. A quick funny one, have you ever taken an Uber?
LEBRON JAMES: I have, but I don't have an account.

Q. The real one here is a couple weeks ago you were talking about the MVP, and a bunch of us in this room and across the country took it as though you were slighting Steph, and Steph replied and it made for all sorts of headlines. But beyond that, is there some sort of tension now or rivalry there between you two just because last year you were in The Finals and you're here again?
LEBRON JAMES: First of all, I made the mistake by even answering the question because I knew where it was going to go, and I guarantee how it was phrased to Steph wasn't how I answered the question. So obviously his reaction was what it was. And I've been there before as well. So Steph was definitely the MVP of our league and is the MVP in our league and is a great basketball player, and what he does for this league is amazing.

Then the question was asked if I had a vote what would the difference be between most valuable and MVP, and I gave my opinion. So obviously you guys ran with it.

But I don't know. You guys make rivals. I mean, I think it's great for the sport. It's great for all sports. I don't think me and Steph -- when you talk about rivalries, you talk about Carolina-Duke, you talk about Ohio State-Michigan. It's hard to say LeBron and Steph. If there's a smaller scale or another word for a rival.

The fact that we're going back-to-back I think is pretty unique. It's pretty unique to be in this position and just to have another opportunity, another opportunity for guys to write about it, for us to play it, for the people to talk about it throughout the world. I'm blessed that I can be a part of conversations.

Q. LeBron, we often see in boxing a boxer looking forward to a rematch against the boxer who he lost to. Did it matter who you were facing in The Finals? Did you want the rematch against the Warriors, or were you just as happy and satisfied if you were taking on the Thunder?
LEBRON JAMES: It didn't matter for us. It's too hard for us to kind of -- throughout our postseason run we can't -- we weren't looking over on the West side seeing what was going on as far as who we'd like to play, because that would have been slighting our competition and who we were going against from Detroit to Atlanta to Toronto.

It was just we were focusing on our job and if we were fortunate enough to win four games in the first series, four games in the second series, and four in the Conference Finals, then whoever our next opponent was going to be we were going to be well prepared for. So it didn't matter for sure.

Q. Talking like Jay said, you appreciate history. Andy Varejao is the first player to be traded from one team in the middle of the season and then play for the opposing team in the NBA Finals. With that context to it and you in the past have called him one of your favorite teammates you've suited up with, what do you think about the fact that you'll be going up against him with the title on the line?
LEBRON JAMES: I think good things happen to good people. So either way he would have been part of The Finals. He's done so much in his career. He's sacrificed a lot. For him to be in this position I think is great for him, for his family. No matter what has happened, he would have been here anyways.

Q. When you return to Cleveland there is the idea of obviously trying to bring a championship to Cleveland to the Cavaliers. How have you been able to minimize what a lot of people think is an immense amount of pressure?
LEBRON JAMES: I don't really get involved into the whole pressure thing. I think I've exceeded expectations in my life as a professional. I'm a statistic that was supposed to go the other way, growing up in the inner city, having a single-parent household. It was just me and my mother. So everything I've done has been a success. So as far as the game of basketball, I just go out and play it and have fun and love it, and be true to the game and to my teammates and live with the results. So I don't -- doesn't really get to me too much.

Q. Following up on the question about Andy, how would you characterize, given his corporate knowledge of the Cleveland Cavaliers, your level of concern about his knowledge playing a role in this series?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, we're a totally different team than when he left.

Q. Secondly, no matter how the series turns out, should he earn a ring either way?
LEBRON JAMES: I mean, that's not for me to debate. For me, I'm just trying to put our team in the best position to win Game 1 and to move on to the next game. But I haven't even -- I can't even go that far down the line right now.

Q. At the end of the regular season you were talking about you have to shift into the Playoffs mode. Do you have a Finals mode, and what is that?
LEBRON JAMES: No, I think it's all part of it. It's not another mode that I get into. It's all part of the mindset and the commitment to what needs to be done to get the job done. Sometimes you're very successful, sometimes you come close. But I prepare myself mentally and physically for whatever that needs to be done, and I live with the results.

Q. LeBron, can you rate or rank the teams you've played on going into The Finals as far as health and playing the right way at the right time? How do you feel going into The Finals with some of the other teams?
LEBRON JAMES: It would be hard for me to rank it right now. I've been fortunate to be a part of seven Finals appearances, and every team that I've been on gave everything that we had. Some we fell short and some we've been able to get over the mountaintop. But not one team -- or one team didn't work harder than the next team. It's too hard to get to this point. It's too hard to get to this point to pick one team over the next, how much commitment that you've got to give to every day for you to even be a part of The Finals.

And people look at my situation and kind of take it for granted seeing I've been here six straight times and they think it's easy, when it's not.

Every team that I've been on has given everything they had just to get to that point. So I'm fortunate to be here again.

Q. You mentioned that when Andy left, the team now is completely different. Could you give a brief explanation how different is the team offensively and defensively since he left?
LEBRON JAMES: Just a different team.

Q. Some media released predictions which said Cavs have just a low percent chance to win the Championship. What is your reaction to this? Do you think the Cavs are the underdog?
LEBRON JAMES: I don't get involved in that. I really don't. I don't get involved in predictions or the chances of this, chances of that. Just got to go out and play the game between the four lines and 94 feet. That's the only thing I focus on.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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