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June 9, 2016

LeBron James

Cleveland, Ohio: Practice Day

Q. LeBron, I'm just curious, when you found out Kevin wasn't playing and that you were going to basically be defending Draymond last night, what approach and what did you set out to do mostly against him?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, it's a different mindset when you know you're starting off on the perimeter compared to when you're starting off on a big. You have to change your mind frame. You have to change mentally, actually thinking as a big, and that was my mindset. When I knew Kevin wasn't playing and Coach said I was starting on Draymond, I had to transition myself into being a big and guarding a big and getting into the scuffle and things of that nature.

So it's just a different approach, which I'm fine by making that transition.

Q. Even though you say you approach it as a big, he initiates so much of their offense from well above the three-point arc. It looked like you made it a priority to get way up on him, even way above the arc. How do you think that affected their offense or helped you guys from an aggressive standpoint defensively?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I think not only myself, but everyone. Everyone extended their defense a little bit more. They're such a great three-point shooting team that you have to extend your defense to start off with. More than that, they move the ball so, so well. And Draymond being one of those guys, one of their playmakers along with Steph, along with Livingston, along with Iguodala that makes so many great passes above that, well beyond the three-point line.

So, you've got to do a good job of trying to help the back-line defense by putting a little ball pressure on them.

Q. Last night, LeBron, you talked about how a lot of the things that Richard Jefferson does doesn't show up in the stat sheet. Can you just elaborate on what those intangibles are and what you're seeing out on the court that kind of helped you guys with your rhythm and play last night?
LeBRON JAMES: He's a professional. He's a true professional, and a guy who is seizing an opportunity and moment to be in this position. The last time he was in The Finals was his first and second year in the league, and I think he's not taking this moment for granted. He's just going out and giving everything that he has.

He knows his role. He plays it very well, and he's key to our team.

Q. I'd like to follow up on Draymond before I ask my own question: You're always such a game-plan guy. You'll do whatever it is that Ty lays out. But when you have a night like last matching up with Draymond, and it worked out as well as it did for you and the club, would that be a situation where you'd go to Ty and say, leave this matchup alone?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, myself and Coach Lue, we talk a lot about game plan, and at the end of the day he has the last say so. And then it's for me to go relay it to the rest of the group and get those guys to buy in on what needs to be done to help us win.

So we have a lot of conversations throughout the whole year on what should we do and how we can be better as a ballclub, and he would give his last decision. Then it's for me to go and take it to the team and make sure they're prepared.

Q. Prior to last night the Warriors had beaten you guys seven in a row, did that at any point start to build up kind of a mental block for your team? And when you win one, when you snap a streak like that, what can it do from a confidence level going against a team like the Warriors?
LeBRON JAMES: I don't think anyone actually knew the number or how many consecutive times they had beaten us. We just knew they had beat us in Game 1 and Game 2, and they beat us pretty well on their home floor. We wanted to just come out with a better effort, sustain a better effort as close to 48 minutes as possible and live with the results.

But I don't think anyone in our locker room actually knew how many times they had beat us in a row.

Q. What have you learned about this team, the makeup of the locker room that lets you know that you might be able to handle any changes that potentially come to the lineup if Kevin is able to play on Friday night?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, in the last two years we've had some extreme situations happen to us, both with two of our All-Stars being out because of injury. At the start of this season, obviously with Shump being out and also Kyrie being out for a long extended period of time, so guys have been able to just -- "next man up", that's always been our motto. For someone that's out and can't perform or can't play at that point in time, then it's next man up. Our coaching staff does a great job of keeping everybody engaged, keeping everybody afloat or understanding, hey, you never know what may happen, so always be ready. So that allows our team to be able to make the adjustment on the fly, if need be.

Q. LeBron, how important is it for the collective when Steph is around the lane or cutting under the basket, making a baseline cut, just within the letter of the law of course, making sure he feels you guys in some way? How much has that been a point of emphasis for you guys? Because it seems like last night was more so for 1 and 2.
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I think, that's for all of their guys, not just Steph. They do a great job of the ball moving, and when you allow those guys to move with freedom of space, they're very dangerous. They're already dangerous enough. So when you allow them to run around and not feel any pressure or any physicality or anything, you know, they're able to just be even more comfortable.

They're already a great team, and you just want to try to take something away from it because of how well they move the ball and how well they share the ball and how great of three-point shooters that Steph and Klay are, and the rest of those guys feed off of them.

Q. And you talked before 3 for obvious reasons about do or die. Now that it's 2-1 and you won a game by 30 or whatever it was last night, how do you keep that same edge?
LeBRON JAMES: It's the same. It's the same mindset. We can't afford to go down 3-1 and go into their building and give them confidence going back. So it's a do-or-die game for us still.

Q. LeBron, Tyronn shared a story with us that both you and Kyrie went up to Kevin before the game last night and said, "We've got to win this one for you." What's it been like noticing the frustration he's dealing with with the protocol, and also, what can you do to support him throughout this process?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I just seen it on his face yesterday when we were all in the locker room, and it was that I-hate-that-I'm-going-through-this moment. I-feel-like-I'm-letting-you-guys-down moment without him actually even saying it. So before we left the locker room, I know Kyrie embraced him, I did as well. Told him, don't worry about it. We've got him tonight. This is what a team is all about for them to pick their brother up in a time of need, and him not to put too much pressure on himself or the team, and that we're going to try to take care of business, which we were able to do.

So I know it was uplifting to him, for sure, and it was for our team as well.

Q. You said a couple days ago you really didn't know what playing possessed meant. But I think like Game 6, 2012 Eastern Conference Finals with Heat against the Celtics, I think you went 45 and 16, and you kind of looked like you were in a different state of mind that night. Was there any comparison between that night, if you look back to last night, and how you'll approach tomorrow?
LeBRON JAMES: I think for me it's just I just play my game. I love to play the game. And obviously being down 3-2 in Boston at that point in time, it was do or die. I mean, it was year two for us, and we had already lost the previous year, and we had so many high hopes that year, and being down 3-2 going into Boston, it was a tough situation for us.

So just try to go out there and play the game that I love to play, trust the work I've put into it and let the chips fall where they may, and I did the same thing last night.

Q. Were you in a different state of mind that night four years ago that you've been since, or was that just a great game?
LeBRON JAMES: I wasn't in a different state of mind. I was just focused like I always am. I was focused on what the job at hand. I play the game with a lot of joy and a lot of fun. A camera can always catch you doing anything and they can always put a caption on it all the time. So, you know, that's one of the pictures that came out kind of saw me bent over and just looking at one of my teammates shooting free throws, and it said, he looks like a man possessed, and I don't even remember what I was thinking about.

Q. What does Ty bring to the team as a coach that's unique and special? And why do the players like him so much?
LeBRON JAMES: For one, he just brings a sense of calmness no matter the situation. Just like he came in here before Game 3 and told you guys we're not worried about being down 0-2. We're back on our home floor and we look forward to going out and playing our best basketball. When you have that from the general, you know, for us, we go out there and follow his command.

Also he's one of the few coaches in our league or he's one of the few coaches in our league that you can relate to because he has some of the same upbringings as some of us. Growing up in the inner city, single-parent household, being a statistic, so I can relate to him a lot. Just understanding how the odds are always built up against you growing up and you make it. So at this point everything else is kind of extra credit because you've already succeeded in life. So everything else is extra credit, so you can relate to that as a player to a coach.

Q. LeBron, when you decided to come back here, how prepared do you think Kyrie as a No. 1 draft pick and franchise guy was prepared? How prepared do you think he was for any changes in his role or the pecking order? And now that you have been back and seeing him up close for two years as opposed to an interested observer, what adjustments have you seen?
LeBRON JAMES: I don't think anyone was prepared for me returning and understanding what the situation was going to entail. I mean, that's everyone here. You know, they had gone through some losing seasons in my previous stint before I came back, so they knew they were getting a pretty good basketball player and a great leader and a good person, and someone that was going to command excellence. But I don't know if they understood the day-to-day process of being in this situation was going to entail.

So it's been a learning experience for everyone that's been a part of it to this point, and including myself. I've actually learned some things as well about the guys and about how to be patient with younger guys and things of that nature.

But if I could look at the first day I returned to now, our floor general, Kyrie, has become such a great leader. Every single day he's learning, every day. And last night was a prime example of that, him going out and playing the way he did, commanding the way he did, getting guys involved the way he did. You know, that's just a true testament of someone who has a growth mindset and being able to grow every single day under these circumstances.

Q. You probably would have welcomed it, but when you were a young player, if you'd had a multiple All-Star, one of the best in the game dropped in your lap. What sort of a challenge would that have been for you?
LeBRON JAMES: Oh, I'd play with anybody. I don't really care. I can play with anybody. I can play with multiple All-Stars. I can play with young guys. I can play with older guys. It would have been great to get a multiple All-Star, someone who had done something in our league to come to this team when I was a young guy to kind of help me along the way as well. But it didn't happen, so I had to learn on my own.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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