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October 11, 2020

Frank Vogel

Los Angeles Lakers

Game 6: Postgame

Los Angeles Lakers - 106, Miami Heat - 93

Q. When did it turn for you with this team, when you started thinking, hey, we got all the pieces, let's do this thing?

FRANK VOGEL: That's a tough question. I think we came out of the gate so strong, October, November, whenever this year began. Obviously on paper we felt like we had a team that we felt could compete for the championship. We came out of the gate strong and lost the first game, and I think went 17-1 after that and started thinking about we could do something special. I think the weekend where we beat Milwaukee and the Clippers was huge for our internal confidence, that we could and were going to reach our goal. I would say probably those two moments, the way we came out of the gate, and that weekend before the hiatus hit.

Q. You told me you didn't get a lot of sleep after Game 3, I think it was. What was it after Game 5, and I guess --


Q. Does it all feel worth it now?

FRANK VOGEL: Losing a game in the NBA Finals is one of the worst experiences of my life. I think our group collectively felt that way, and the challenge was to channel that into effort and focus and energy and enthusiasm, positive energy, into the next game.

I put a challenge on our group to be a team that's going to respond to losses all throughout the season, try to never lose two games in a row. That applied to all of these playoff series. We wanted to channel that, whatever you want to call it, the misery of losing the game, into the next game.

Boy, did we ever tonight.

Q. Obviously this roster had talent, but in a game like this where you see guys sort of take your direction -- you came in famous for your defensive tendencies. For guys to take your direction at that talent level and put it to effect, is that why you decided to coach this team and come to the Lakers, even though at the time there was a lot of uncertainty around the franchise?

FRANK VOGEL: Well, there's not uncertainty in my mind with LeBron James. And [when] I took the job, we didn't have Anthony Davis. We didn't have the whole team. It was a different team after the fact.

But I have always believed in LeBron James. He's the greatest player the basketball universe has ever seen, and if you think you know, you don't know, okay, until you're around him every day, you're coaching him, you're seeing his mind, you're seeing his adjustments, seeing the way he leads the group. You think you know; you don't know.

It's just been a remarkable experience coaching him and seeing him take this group that was not in the playoffs last year, the roster was put together, you know, overnight, and just taking a group and leading us to the promised land, so they say.

He was terrific the entire season leading us, and I can't say enough about him.

Q. Everyone talked about what a mental challenge it was going to be to win in the bubble. When did you start to recognize what kind of mental strength your team had, and did you think once you got to the bubble, you had the team that was mentally strong enough to handle everything that came with it?

FRANK VOGEL: Yeah, I've always believed in our mental toughness, and our experience. You know, not just LeBron, I believe Anthony Davis was destined to be a champion, and the pairing of the two of them together, you know, took us here.

But the experience of the group, the IQ of the group, Rondo, Danny Green, JaVale McGee having been there, the talent level of the other guys, other guys willing to buy into starring in their roles. Just we had a strong belief in this group. When we got into the bubble, it was about focusing on the work, staying in the moment, focusing on day to day, and after one point -- I don't know if there was really one point. I think beating Portland was a huge confidence booster for us because they were playing as well as anybody in the world. We know what Dame Lillard is capable of, and it just built from each series.

Q. You said twice, "if you think you know, you don't know," about how good LeBron James actually is. Can you think of some moments that describe that feeling and showed you that you didn't know until you were around him?

FRANK VOGEL: Some individual moments, you know, that's tough to say. It literally happened every day. Every day we're in film and we're talking about our team. Every day I talk to him before practice or before a game, this is what I'm feeling about the team, this is the direction I think we can go, I think we can move the needle some in this direction.

You know, decisiveness is an incredible quality to have, and to have his mind and be able to use him as a resource to, partner with him, the things I'm seeing on tape, believing in, with his mind, to collaborate with the decisions on how to move forward with our group, it's just -- I don't know if there's one or two instances that you can point to. But just every damn day in film, you know, he's leading the charge with getting our team better. I don't think people can undervalue that.

Q. When you came in, you said the identity was going to be defense. How good or even great was your defense through the first three quarters?

FRANK VOGEL: I'm so proud of that. Our guys, look, you can have a defensive -- you can have a talented team, even a defensive-talented team, but if everybody is not working together and everybody is not bought in and seeing the value of being able to suffocate an opponent and take away their strength, you're not going to reach that level.

But our guys saw the value very early on. They bought in and the first three quarters, I'm just super proud of our guys. We were all over the place. We executed our coverages perfectly and we did it with energy and passion and active hands, and we rebounded the basketball and that controlled the whole game, because our ability on the break, we are getting stops without fouling; other teams had no chance with us getting out on the break.

Just very, very proud of our defensive performance tonight.

Q. You talked about how this roster was put together essentially overnight and how you brought in new guys over the course of the season. This is a roster that had to be versatile, Markieff, Dwight, Alex. When you reflect on this group and why all the pieces worked and maybe what people missed about how this roster was built early on, what made it the right supporting cast?

FRANK VOGEL: Well, I think the buy-in. I think everybody understanding that we have an extremely deep team, and whatever was asked of them was going to be filled out. You know, the guys were just ready and willing and encouraged to star in their roles, whatever that role ended up being.

But the way we wanted to have big guys that could bang with some of the bigger centers in the league and the ability to slide AD over to the five, the hybrid approach of being able to play small, being able to play big, you know, just all of those things factored into it, and the ability to have multiple guys that could defend, and dribble, pass and shoot on the offensive end, just gave us great versatility.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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