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October 11, 2020

Kyle Kuzma

Los Angeles Lakers

Game 6: Postgame

Los Angeles Lakers - 106, Miami Heat - 93

Q. When you think about being not only one of the longest-tenured Lakers but the journey you've taken in basketball, what does this moment feel like?

KYLE KUZMA: This is everything. It's still setting in. I'm half-drunk right now from all the champagne, so I don't know how to act exactly. But man, just a kid from Flint, Michigan. It's crazy. Crazy, crazy. I almost didn't go to college. Wasn't supposed to get drafted. NBA champion. It's unbelievable.

Q. This team was through everything, essentially, that could be thrown at a team in the course of a season. How did you guys manage to survive it? What was the hardest stuff to deal with, and how did that make tonight sweeter?

KYLE KUZMA: It just makes it sweeter. We've been playing basketball for a whole year, a year straight, pretty much. We've been through so much as a team. Going to China not knowing if we're going to get out of China. I didn't know if we were going to play the games over there. My brother, Kobe Bryant, passing away. And then COVID hits. We come into the bubble. We don't have Avery Bradley. It's remarkable. We are such a mentally tough team. Everybody sacrificed something for the betterment of the team, and it's huge.

Q. How much did LeBron's leadership help you get to this point with all the mental exhaustion and frustration?

KYLE KUZMA: He's one of the greatest leaders in sports, not just the NBA. He's always rallying the troops, talking in group chats and making sure everybody's fine. Holds everybody to a high standard. Makes everybody accountable. Everything you want in a leader. We just rocked with him. You could see that. Not where everybody put themselves before the team. Everybody was team-first, and everybody wanted to win. Everybody sacrificed.

It starts with him.

Q. When LeBron first came in two years ago, what did you notice about what changed with the culture of the franchise and what did he bring with him from a championship mentality standpoint when he arrived?

KYLE KUZMA: The biggest thing that he brought was a standard of excellence, a standard of work ethic. Those are the biggest things. Anytime you're on a LeBron James-led team, you know you're going to give it your all, and you've got to come in every single day and work. You've got to work. Because he's doing it in year 17, 35 years old, every day, coming into the gym first. When you walk into the gym, you see him doing it. It makes you want to go even harder. That's what he's brought to this huge organization.

Q. That stretch from the first quarter through the third, is that the best defense you've played all season, considering what's at stake?

KYLE KUZMA: I'm not really sure. I don't really know the numbers. But I think from being locked in, that was probably the most we've ever been locked in during the season. Man, barely made mistakes. Everybody was coming in trying to guard somebody. Somebody was trying to stop somebody. And to hold them under 40 in the first half, that's unbelievable. That's crazy. Especially for a team like this, the Miami Heat, great shooters. It's probably the toughest team we had to guard all playoffs. We were so laser-focused. It was huge for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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