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June 6, 2007

LeBron James


Q. Mike just talked with you guys treating this as the next game and the next series, but clearly it's not that. When you look at the media hype, The Tonight Show is here. Do you enjoy the circus-like atmosphere that surrounds all this leading up to the games?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, for us it really is. To everybody else it might not be the next game or next playoff series, but to us it is. That's how we've approached every game in this postseason, from round 1 all the way from the Eastern Conference Finals and now to The Finals. That's the way we approach it. We don't try to make it more than what it is. It's a basketball game and we have to approach it like that, with our same mindset we've been doing throughout this postseason.

Q. You obviously were in Ohio when the Cavs had all those losing years before they got you. When was it like watching them and following them during those troubling times and how much pride does it give you to help turn around the franchise the way it has been?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, for me growing up it really wasn't bad for me because I wasn't really on professional sports at all. I didn't know what was going on with professional sports. I was just trying to play AU basketball and play little league football and things like that. So it really wasn't a big deal for me. But as I grew up and started to learn more about it and then being the No. 1 pick to Cleveland and knowing the history about Cleveland sports, it really meant a lot to finally bring home a championship to the city of Cleveland. You just seen how the fans reacted after.

Q. Coach said that Eric Snow talked to you guys from his experience in the NBA Finals. What did Eric tell you besides the media and the ticket stuff? What did he tell you to expect in these NBA Finals?
LEBRON JAMES: Just to have fun. I mean, this is fun times for us, and there should be no reason to add any more pressure onto it. This is fun times for us, and we've earned it. We've played just as many games as everybody else in this postseason, so we've definitely earned the right to be here.
And at the same time, we have to be mentally focused and approach it like it's business. It's always been business for us throughout this postseason, and him being the only one as a player, besides Coach Brown, and Danny Ferry being part of the Finals, he knows what it's about, so we listened to his word and we approached him in practice yesterday and we're going to try to do the same today.

Q. Can you just talk about just the Spurs, what you think about them defensively, and also just the perceived pressure on you for this team to win a championship, you've got to get in there?
LEBRON JAMES: I think defensively they're one of the best teams in the NBA. You know, they work well together on the defensive end. You know if you beat one guy, another guy steps up. They've been pretty good throughout the years on the defensive end.
But it's no added pressure for me. There's no added pressure for our team to go out there and try to pressure. We just know we've got to go out there and play as hard as we can and give ourselves an opportunity to win. We've definitely been able to do that.

Q. Once you did start paying attention to sports history, it obviously stuck because you know a lot about it. What are your favorite Finals moments?
LEBRON JAMES: My favorite Finals moment is probably the last shot Michael had in Utah to end the series, thinking that was going to be his last shot ever in the NBA uniform and to retire on top like he did, hitting a game-winner on the road, was definitely my No. 1 favorite moment of watching the NBA Finals.

Q. Did you see the Dr. J. shot? Do you remember that -- I know you weren't born then, but --
LEBRON JAMES: That was pretty nice, too (laughter).

Q. We all know you guys are going to China for the China Games in October. Do you believe you guys can go to China with the trophy?

Q. You guys, the team.
LEBRON JAMES: Cleveland? Yeah, that's why we're here (smiling). We're going to try to do our best to bring it there, absolutely.

Q. Do you feel 22?
LEBRON JAMES: No, absolutely not (laughter).

Q. And why not? And how old do you feel?
LEBRON JAMES: I feel like -- I just feel like a veteran. I don't say I don't feel 22, I'm not hurting or anything like that, my body is not down or anything like that. I just feel like when you look at a guy like Daniel Gibson playing on the backcourt with you, or you look at Sasha and Andy, you know these guys look like younger guys to you, but when you really look at it, Sasha and Andy are really older than me, but I'm kind of the leader and I'm kind of the role model for those guys.
As a basketball player, I don't look -- I don't feel 22 until I really get off the court, and then I'm back and doing my usual video games and running around the house and stuff with my son, things like that. That's when I feel 22 again.

Q. There's a long list of elite players that have never won an NBA title. Do you feel like you need to have one to be considered a great?
LEBRON JAMES: I don't know. That's not my room to say. You know, when you look at guys who become greats, it's because of their athletic ability and their ability to do the things that they did as an individual, and I don't get involved in individual things like why do they base your game on and things like that. That satisfies me more than anything about winning a championship, just to get the satisfaction for my teammates. I think you become one of the greats by doing a lot of things as an individual. They don't base that on your team's perspective and things like that.

Q. You've made such a dramatic improvement as a team in the past couple years defensively since Mike Brown took over. This league is known for glorious offensive talents like yourself. Has it made you appreciate the last couple years a little bit more, understanding, like, yeah, that is the way you've got to succeed to win titles?
LEBRON JAMES: That is definitely fun. It is fun to really know that you can get stops on the defensive end, and I've been on both sides of the fence where I couldn't get stops or as a team we couldn't get stops, and it made it harder on the offensive end. When you have a coach that tells you, hey, you guys go out there and get stops, you play defense for me and I'll let you do what you want on the offensive end, then it makes you play a lot harder.

Q. What you just accomplished against Tayshaun Prince, who we know has elevated his offensive game tremendously, what kind of a source of pride did that give you in that series that you pretty much rendered him effectiveless?
LEBRON JAMES: It's a pride thing for us, and it's a pride thing for me to say I don't want my man to score. You know, I kind of played both sides of the fence. I played offense and defense in the Detroit series and I took pride in doing it because I don't want to be the one guy on the court that's not playing defense and I've got four other guys working their ass off on the defensive end. It's not about that. You've got to play both sides of the fence. It just brings so much excitement when you know you can go out there and get a stop and get a run out on the other end.

Q. How quick a learner are you when you're put in a new situation?
LEBRON JAMES: I'm very quick. I've always got compliments on that from coaches I've played for saying I'm a quick learner. I'm able to adjust fast to what's going on throughout the course of a game or throughout the course of life, honestly. I've been pretty good with it thus far.

Q. What do you expect -- this is your first NBA Finals. What do you expect are those things you're going to have to learn and adjust to on the fly, because I know it's another series, but it is a different situation?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, it is, but it was a different situation for us also being in the Eastern Conference Finals, never being part of that as an individual. I learned from game to game to game how to adjust. How do you adjust for the road crowd, how do you adjust for the home crowd. I mean, I don't know, how can I explain it to you until I get into the fire, and then I'll be able to adjust on the fly and I'll be able to answer a lot better probably after Game 1, let you know how I was able to adjust throughout the course of the ballgame.

Q. But you feel good?
LEBRON JAMES: I feel great. I'm ready.

Q. So many of the experts are picking against you guys. Do you kind of feel like you have to have that us-against-the-world kind of mentality going into this series?
LEBRON JAMES: No, we haven't been on the everyone-picks-the-Cleveland-Cavaliers side yet (smiling), so there's nothing new for us. We just go out there and we play great basketball. You earn respect and you get respect by playing great basketball, and we've done that throughout the last two years. We haven't looked in the paper yet and seen the Cavaliers is picked to win the series or picked to win the game, so it's nothing new.

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