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June 8, 2017

LeBron James

Cleveland, Ohio: Practice Day

Q. You spoke yesterday about going immediately home and getting the treatment because it was a physically and emotionally stressful game for you. How are you feeling right now, and do you feel like the quick turnaround is an advantage for you to get back on the court or kind of a disadvantage because you need a little more rest?
LEBRON JAMES: Before I answer your question, I just want to send my condolences out to Todd Harris' family.

Someone that meant a lot to our league. I worked with him for so many years. And that's very sad and dramatic, what happened. Getting an opportunity to know his wife and his son and his daughter, seeing them all for the last few years. Every time we played Brooklyn, I saw him in the tunnel taking pictures with the family. Just always been kind to me.

And when I heard the news -- I haven't been on social media for quite a while now; I didn't even know it happened until when we did the moment of silence yesterday before the game. That lets you know that this is -- this game is unbelievable, but there are also things much bigger than that. So my prayers from my family sent out to his family.

To answer your question, I've been around the clock getting my body ready for tomorrow, getting my mind ready once again. And is it an advantage? I don't know if it's an advantage, after this series, after this postseason, after how many minutes and games I played in. But I'll be ready to go tomorrow once the game gets here.

Q. One quick follow-up. Obviously you guys played a lot better in Game 3. Now that you had a little bit of time, what did you see out there on the court that's working for you guys and that you think you can bring and carry over to Game 4 to make sure you can complete out and get that game?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, I feel like if we come in with the same energy, same effort, physicality, as we did in Game 3, we give ourselves a good chance to win. Now, does that result in a win? It's to see. Because we played well in Game 3, and they were able to get that one as well.

So it was just about us playing the same way, being a little bit better down the stretch, obviously. But like I said, last night we had some -- I mean, I just watched the film. We had some pretty good looks that just didn't go down, and they had some looks that went down for them. So obviously we know it's a big challenge, but we look forward to the matchup again.

Q. Having changed teams a couple times and knowing how hard it can be, how long it can take for it all to come together, can you appreciate for Kevin maybe, how fortunate maybe he is that it looks like he found a situation for him where it just blends perfectly right and maybe it can be quicker, he can find a fulfillment easier?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, first of all, with all the success that he's gotten throughout his career, I've always been proud of him and I'm always excited to see him grow as a player. I don't think that our careers are the same as far as changing teams. Their team was already kind of put together, and you just implement a guy that's ready to sacrifice, a great talent, a guy that's willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.

But that team, they knew what they were about. He just had to come in and just do what he had to do. And that's what he been doing. For me, when I left here to go to Miami, we had to build something. We brought in eight or nine guys, and we had to build something. And when I came back here, we built something again.

But I can definitely appreciate the simple fact of him either reshaping his game or just sacrificing maybe some shots here, sacrificing having the ball in his hands all the time. But it works for their team. I mean, who wouldn't want to sacrifice playing on a Golden State team or a San Antonio team or a Cleveland team when you know the ultimate result is you can actually compete for a championship.

Q. We know that you don't put too much importance on almost any one game outside of a Game 7, obviously, but would getting one tomorrow, how important would that be for you, whether it be to stop history, to avoid a sweep, whatever the case?
LEBRON JAMES: My mindset is to try to get every game. Tomorrow's another important opportunity for us and for myself, obviously, to continue the series. It's been a long season, and you hate for it to end this way. So mentally and physically, I got to prepare myself for that.

Q. You touched on this a little bit last night, but even before this series you were -- kind of knew this was going to be a tough one. Having played these guys now three games, is the challenge -- is it different than you anticipated? What have you learned about the Golden State team?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, you knew they were resilient, for one. I watched a lot of film on them, and I knew it was going to be one of the toughest challenges I've had because of the firepower they have, because of the mindset that they were going to have. And they're a hungry group. You can sense that. You've seen that throughout the postseason. You've seen it for the first three games of The Finals, and they have so much talent, a ton of talent. And they work well together. It's not one guy on that team that's selfishly looking for himself and not for the team.

When you can combine talent, you can combine unselfishness, and then you can combine guys that play hard, that's going to result in some really good things. I sensed that from not only watching the film before the series started but also now playing in the series.

Q. After watching film now, that possession where after K.D. hit the three, were you comfortable with that? Is that what you guys were looking for? It seemed like a lot of time was wasted on that possession?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, after K.D. hit the three, I think that's where Kyrie missed the jumper, right? He had it going as far as the one-on-one matchup, and he's an exceptional one-on-one player.

We take it. We take it. He was pretty down about the shot attempt that he got. But, listen, like I said, it's a miss-or-make league, and he left everything on the floor. He did everything he could. And obviously when you miss the shot, you always are going to say, well, we could have got a better possession.

But we live with that. We live with our star point guard taking a shot that he's capable of making. He just missed it, and that was the result of it.

Q. The plus-minus numbers last night with you on the court versus off the court were reflective of some of the numbers we saw throughout the regular season and also reflective of the team's record when you -- playing a game versus not playing a game. Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals you missed some time, and the Cavs were able to stem the tide. What can be done moving forward to empower this team to be able to perform at a consistent level when you're taking a break or from a game or from a brief rest in a game?
LEBRON JAMES: I don't know. I don't know the answer to that right now. Obviously I hate the fact that we're not able to -- you know, just try to keep the leads, and if I come out of the game or not, even keep the leads, just sustain it. I hate it for my teammates, I hate it for myself, I hate it for everybody that's involved. And last night, it was another one of those instances. I came out with 1:43 I believe in the first quarter, we were up 31-29, and then they went on a quick 10-0 run. It's 39-31. Well, 32 after they reviewed the three that added another point.

And against a team like this, those type of runs you just can't afford. And like you say, throughout the course of the regular season or throughout the course of the postseason, we just have to find better ways to, as a collective unit, having the right pieces out on the floor or the guys on the floor, they have to do their job, and try to do it at a high level, no matter who is out on the floor. So something we have to figure out.

Q. Ten years ago you began your Finals run against a team that was in the midst of a dynasty. Now you're up against a team that looks like it's built to last. Does that change the challenge, does that fuel you? How do you feel about that?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, I think it's just part of my calling to just go against teams in the midst of a dynasty. This has been the best team in our league the last three years. They won a championship, and last year it was the greatest regular-season team we had played, probably one of the best postseason teams that everybody's ever seen as well, but we were just able to overcome that. And they're playing like one of the best teams once again.

So like I said, there have been times throughout my career where I just played teams that were just in the midst of something that can last for a long time. And obviously this team is built to be able to do that with the talent that they have.

So we'll see what happens. Obviously you never know what's going to happen, but as it stands right now, they look pretty good, as far as the future.

Q. I know you don't like to look too far down the road, but as well as you're playing and as good as you're feeling, have you kind of recalibrated how long you want to stay around?
LEBRON JAMES: I don't know. I don't know. I feel good. I actually feel better. I don't feel good right now, but I feel pretty good where my game is right now. But I don't know. I don't know. I haven't really thought about it, how long I want to stay around. I definitely want to compete. I want to compete for championships every year, and so we'll see what happens.

Q. Obviously you're no stranger to criticism, right? There are some people that feel that with 50 seconds left in the game, you guys up two, they would like to see you kind of force more in those moments to try to score that basket yourself as opposed to dishing it away. I'm just curious to know what your message to those critics would be.
LEBRON JAMES: I don't know if you've been here for the last couple years or heard me talk. I don't even really care. I had a 101 drives last night. I didn't have 101, but you get the gist of it. I'm sorry I didn't go for 102. But at the end of the day I don't really -- what is a critic? It doesn't matter.

One of my favorite quotes, when I really stopped caring about what people say, is Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena. So if you read that, you'll see where I'm at right now in my life. It doesn't matter to me.

Q. If you could have the play over again, would you still make that same pass?
LEBRON JAMES: If I could have the play over again, I would come off a three screen situation. Draymond would switch on me with five fouls. I would get him leaning. I would drive left. I would see K.D. step up. I would see Stephen Curry drop on Kevin. And I would see Kyle Korver in the corner, one of the greatest three-point shooters in this league's history, and give him an opportunity in the short corner. I would do the same exact thing.

Q. To your earlier point about K.D., when you changed teams and went to Miami, it was a different time. In order to get a player of your caliber or Kevin's caliber, you had to pretty much clear the decks and start over. Now you have a situation where a team is able to be a championship team already and add a player of Kevin's caliber. Is that good or bad for the league in your opinion? And for a guy who pours his heart and soul into this, is it fair?
LEBRON JAMES: Oh, I mean, it's part of the rules. The difference between my situation is -- well, the best thing with Golden State's situation is a lot of their guys are drafted. They drafted a lot of their guys. Three of their best players were already drafted, so they were able to hold on to them because they own the Bird rights, if everybody knows the CBA. So they're able to keep Steph, Klay and Draymond and able to go out and sign someone else like they did this past summer by just getting rid of a couple pieces in Harrison Barnes and not re-signing Barbosa and Bogut and guys from last year's team. So that allowed them to go do that.

My case, going to Miami, we had to clear a lot of space because they didn't have anybody as far as guys that they wanted to keep as far as Bird rights besides U.D. [Udonis Haslem] and D-Wade. They had the opportunity to go get two of us, and they did that in me and Bosh, and then we were able to finagle a way to get Mike Miller because some of us took pay cuts, and got some other guys. We had Rio [Mario Chalmers] because he was drafted. But it was a different situation. Totally different. Totally different.

But is it fair? I don't care. I mean, I think it's great. It's great for our league. Right now, look at our TV ratings, look at the money our league is pouring in. I mean, guys are loving the game, our fans love the game. I mean, who am I to say if it's fair or not? No matter who I'm going against, if I'm going against four Hall of Famers, like I said before the series started with Draymond, Klay, Steph, and K.D., or if I'm going against two or whatever the case may be, I'm always excited to play the game. And I'm not one to judge and say if it's fair or not if guys are adding players to their team.

So that's what you want to do. Is it fair that the New York Yankees in the '90s was adding piece after piece after piece after piece? I mean, if you have the opportunity to do that -- is it fair that the Cowboys added Deion Sanders?

I mean, listen. It happens. It's sports. You have an opportunity to sign one of the best players, and you can do it, go ahead and do it. Why not? If I become an owner, I'm going to try to sign everybody. Appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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