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June 19, 2016

LeBron James

Oakland, California: Game Seven

Cavaliers 93, Warriors 89

Q. LeBron, first off, congratulations on the win. So this being your third title, there's obviously a lot of footnotes that separate this, but does this championship resonate with you as being a little bit extra special being that it's for the city of Cleveland, for the state of Ohio where you grew up?
LEBRON JAMES: Absolutely. Just knowing what our city has been through, northeast Ohio has been through, as far as our sports and everything for the last 50-plus years. You could look back to the Earnest Byner fumble, Elway going 99 yards, to Jose Mesa not being able to close out in the bottom of the ninth to the Cavs went to The Finals -- I was on that team -- in 2007, us getting swept, and then last year us losing 4-2. And so many more stories.

And our fans, they ride or die, no matter what's been going on, no matter the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs and so on, and all other sports teams. They continue to support us. And for us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them.

Q. I asked you a couple times about that, about the notion of what finally winning one would do for yourself and for the city of Cleveland, and also especially for Akron. I just wonder, now that you've accomplished it, is it relief? Is it excitement? What are the emotions?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, I mean, yeah, David, you've been harping on it a lot the last couple weeks. But for me, I'm true to the game, and I know what I bring to the table. I came back for a reason. I came back to bring a championship to our city. I knew what I was capable of doing. I knew what I learned in the last couple years that I was gone, and I knew if I had to -- when I came back, I knew I had the right ingredients and the right blueprint to help this franchise get back to a place that we've never been. That's what it was all about.

Right now it's just excitement. It's not even relief. It's just excitement for us as a team, as a franchise, as a city, as a community. To be able to continue to build up our city, to continue to be an inspiration to our city, it means everything. I'm happy to be a part of it.

Q. At 3-1 with them having two on their record at home, what do you think turned the series around?
LEBRON JAMES: For me, when I came up here after we lost Game 4 at home, I said, hey, listen, we've got to take one possession, one game at a time. We're going to Golden State, so we've got to fly home anyways, so why not have another game?

And I believed in that. And my guys believe in me as their leader every single day. I preach to them every single day. I'm their leader, and they allow me to lead those guys every single night. I was just true to that. I believed, and nobody else believed besides the other 14 guys and our coaching staff and our fans. So it's just going out and executing and putting things together and making plays, and we were able to do that.

Q. LeBron, when you're sitting on the bench before the game and the National Anthem, you seemed to be deep in thought. What was really going through your mind at that point?
LEBRON JAMES: Just zeroing in on what needs to be done to help us win. Obviously I put the effort into it, but just thinking about the game, thinking about the plays, understanding that they're going to make a run. They're a great team. Understanding that we're going to make some mistakes, but it's how we come back from it and how we move on to the next possession.

Then also just living in the moment. I told my guys before the game: Listen, there is a game to be played, but there's not many guys, there's not many teams that get an opportunity to be in the NBA Finals in a Game 7. There's just not.

And this is my second one, and I'm able to say that I've been victorious twice in Game 7.

I just told the guys: Don't take this for granted. Don't take it for granted. Let's go out. Our coaching staff gave us a great plan; let's go execute it.

Q. You guys are losing tears there, J.R. Smith, it's a real genuine scene. What comes to your mind, all the people that were for you when you were young? What is happening?
LEBRON JAMES: A little bit of everything. I think all the emotions, everything. Obviously I know what J.R.'s been through in his career. People counting him out and saying he's this, he's that, not understanding -- you can't have that. That's not yours. That's for Daddy.

Just understand what J.R.'s been through and people just saying that there's no way he can be a winner. When our GM came to us last year and said, hey, we've got a deal to get Timofey Mozgov and get Iman Shumpert, and the Knicks are going to throw in J.R., I was like, what? They're going to throw in J.R. into the deal? And I was like, okay, I've got him. I got him.

And J.R. turned himself into not only a huge boost to our team, but he turned himself into a two-way player, both sides of the floor. And I think those emotions came out of J.R. at the end of those games. Those emotions came out of me, just leading 14 guys and understanding, like I said, what our city's been through over the last 50-plus years since Jim Brown. Then also people just counting me out. Throughout my 13-year career, I've done nothing but be true to the game, give everything I've got to the game, put my heart, my blood, sweat, tears into the game, and people still want to doubt what I'm capable of doing.

So that was a little icing on the cake for myself to just let me know that everything I've done, it results in this. They say hard work pays off, and that's what happened tonight.

Q. LeBron, what is it about the athlete's mind or your mind that you don't feel that 3-1 is insurmountable especially against this team and you've got to win two here? Then the last three games, the fire that you maybe played -- or were you fueled by anything that happened between you and Draymond, in Klay's words, to give you extra fire in these three games?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, I mean, at the end of the day you're down 3-1, and we've got to come here. We've got to come here and win. We had to win in this building anyways. I mean, we only get three games at home. So even if we sweep the home series in a seven-game series, we've got to win here anyway.

So Game 5 was a great opportunity for us to try to seize that, and we came up with a great game plan. Our coaching staff gave us a great game plan, and we were able to send the game back home down 3-2.

And we know our fans. Our fans give us everything, and we were able to give it back to them. Once we get to a Game 7, I'll take my chances versus anybody, versus any team. You give me one game, you give me 48 minutes, I'll take my chances. Once we got to a Game 7, I was just confident. I knew what I was capable of doing. I knew my guys would allow me to lead them throughout the 48 minutes, and they did that.

Q. Your story is a bit like a Greek drama. You come to the Cavaliers a home-grown product, you leave, you come back saying that you want to win for the city. Can you talk about what you want to tell the Cleveland fans, the ones that got mad at you, the ones who never got mad at you? And also right now you're an emotional person. What is going through your heart and mind right now?
LEBRON JAMES: What's going through my mind is I'm ready to get back to Cleveland. I can't wait to get off that plane and hold that trophy up and see all our fans at the terminal, IX Jet Center, and I know they're going to be ready. So I can't wait to give the emotion back to them. I'm looking forward to it. That's all.

Q. What message do you have for fans there right now who are watching who are very happy? And, again, the ones who were upset with you, the ones who were never upset with you?
LEBRON JAMES: That don't matter. That's yesterday's newspaper. I don't think anybody's reading yesterday's newspaper. They'll be reading tomorrow that I'm coming home. I'm coming home with what I said I was going to do.

Q. Can you even fathom what that parade's going to be like on Wednesday?
LEBRON JAMES: Oh, my goodness. It's going to be probably one of the biggest parties -- I'm sorry, one of? It's going to be the biggest party that Cleveland has ever seen ever. So if you guys still have a little money left over in your budget, you guys better make a trip to Cleveland and get a little piece of it.

Q. I spoke to the people around the team leading up to Game 7, and several people told me there is just a sense of calm emanating from you. What put you in that mind space?
LEBRON JAMES: I don't know. I don't know. I can sit up here and say -- I don't know if it was "The Godfather," I don't know if it was "Couples Retreat" that I watched, I don't know if it was "Ocean's 11, 12, and 13," I don't know if it was the "Revenge of the Nerds" that I watched. I really don't know.

But I was just so like, listen, you've put everything into the game. The game always gives back to people that's true to the game. I've watched it. I know the history of the game, and I was just calm. I was calm. I was focused. I was locked in.

I don't know. I wish I could tell you exactly what happened, but I had to be calm in order for my 14 guys to allow me to lead them and for those guys to play the way they played.

I mean, I can't do it by myself, so that was my mindset. I was confident. I was calm. You've got to stay low. Like Jay-Z said, you've got to stay low and keep firing, and that's exactly what I did.

Q. Finally, you told me when we were walking out in Toronto that if you got four more wins you'd share the secret motivation you alluded to last year?
LEBRON JAMES: I tell you one-on-one. I tell you one-on-one (smiling).

Q. That's fine.
LEBRON JAMES: I'll tell you one-on-one. I'll tell you one-on-one. I'm out.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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