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May 25, 2011
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Practice Day
Q. What does it feel like to be just on the verge?
LeBRON JAMES: We're just seizing the moment, honestly. You know we got one game to close them out. We've been in this position twice this year, and we've done a great job doing it. Different circumstances being on the road, but we look forward to the challenge.
Q. How inspiring has Mike Miller been, with everything he's going through in his life right now, how he came out last night and probably had his best game as a member of the Miami Heat?
LeBRON JAMES: You know, it's been great. Last night was great. It was what we had expected of him. We were happy for him last night to come out and play his best game in probably the biggest game of our season. So he did a great job.
Q. What did you think about Mike Brown going to the Lakers and getting back on the bench?
LeBRON JAMES: I think it's great. I tweeted a long while ago about seeing him -- he was in the studio doing the game. I said he looks a lot better patrolling the sidelines. So I think he'll be great. He's a great coach.
Q. There's a perception that they did it for you so you could pick the next coach?
LeBRON JAMES: Did what for me?
Q. That the Cavs fired Mike (Indiscernible) I know it's not true.
LeBRON JAMES: No.
Q. But what did you think when that came out and people were thinking you were the reason?
LeBRON JAMES: Mike Brown is a great coach. He brought us -- he gave us a success we hadn't had before in that city, and it started with his defensive concepts. He brought in a defensive mindset that we didn't have. 50-plus wins, he was coach of the year, got us to the Finals, won the Eastern Conference Finals. We was competitive year after year because of him and his coaching staff. I respect him and am grateful to have had him as a coach throughout the years that I had him. He definitely helped me become who I am today.
Q. Mike has said you guys kept a relationship.
LeBRON JAMES: Yes.
Q. What do you think -- how was your relationship?
LeBRON JAMES: It was great. When you look back on it, you always say you probably take things for granted, when you look back on it. I look at it, we could have been better. But I think we had a -- man, we had an unbelievable relationship. Like I said, I knew his family. I respected him as a coach. Him being a young coach when he first got to Cleveland and growing those five years. Great time. If it's true, when it's official, I think the Lakers got them a great coach.
Q. LeBron, you guys were particularly emotional after the game in a nice way. You and Dwyane had a really nice hug, that kind of thing. Was that because you knew what that win meant? Why were you kind of feeling so great?
LeBRON JAMES: First of all, we love to play the game. If you don't have emotions about this game in this stage, I think it's a problem with you. We always do that. You look at all our wins or all our games when we fight hard to come back in a game or we just feel like it took a lot of energy out of us, we always embrace one another after the game. That's something we do as a team.
People have given us a knock over that, which is crazy, but we don't stop that for nobody.
Q. I just meant that how much is that about knowing what being one win away from the Finals is, 96% of the teams that have gotten up 3-1 --
LeBRON JAMES: It's just about embracing that moment, understanding how big that game was last night. And to use extra innings to get that win, it meant a lot.
Q. Do you respect getting there more now than say when you got there the first time so quick?
LeBRON JAMES: Absolutely. It's tough. I don't remember it being this tough in '07 when I got there, but it's tough. It's been a long road. We are one win away.
Q. LeBron, you impacted two -- well, the whole game, but two particular points. I wonder if you would review them for us. First of all, the period at the end of the first quarter and the second quarter when you were setting up on the guys while you were scoring, plus obviously the way you played defensively at the end?
LeBRON JAMES: We missed a lot of lay-ups to start the game. We missed a dunk. D-Wade had a wide-open dunk to put us up 6-0, he missed that dunk. I missed a few lay-ups. We didn't have it going offensively. But one thing we did, we defended that quarter. Gave up 19 points. I felt like I had a -- I feel like I had a good rhythm. Just tried to keep us in the game, either assisting or scoring all those points in the first quarter, and then late in the game defensively trying to take the challenge on Derrick Rose.
He's a great player. I feel like I'm a pretty good solid defender. I just wanted to try to make it tough on him, and make it tough on the team.
Q. LeBron, you talked about the process. How much easier does the process become once you have those five guys on the court at the end of the game?
LeBRON JAMES: That's -- nothing from our season has been easy at all. That is not even in our vocabulary or in our pre-game speech or anything. Nothing is easy. We work for everything. We come in and prepare ourselves every day to get ready for a game. So we're just looking forward to it.
Q. Even though you're up 3-1, you still have the mindset of being the more desperate team tomorrow?
LeBRON JAMES: That's the only way we play. When we play like that, we're a great team. We're desperate. We want to win and we want to close out on their floor. We're looking forward to the challenge. We know it's going to be tough. They have some of the best fans in the world. So we'll see.
Q. If you guys are able to get this next win, do you feel, after everything, that would provide at least a small measure of validation? Or does it have to be all or nothing?
LeBRON JAMES: No, we've played so much basketball right now, we feel like -- we are trying to compete for a championship. Tomorrow is our next step. Is a win guaranteed tomorrow? No, none of us knows that right now. We're going to come out with the same intensity we've got since after Game 1, and we know we'll give ourselves a great chance to win.
Q. LeBron, you guys seem to have improved every step of the playoffs. It's beyond Udonis and Mike Miller, the defense and everything. Why? Why is this team getting so much better in the playoffs do you think?
LeBRON JAMES: Just trying to seize the moment and understand these opportunities don't present themselves every year. Me and D-Wade talk about it all the time. If you would have told us wouldn't have an opportunity to be close to the Finals in five or six years, we would have thought you was lying to us. It's been '06, and '07 for myself. I'm just trying to seize the moment. I understanding what type of team we have. Understanding we have a good enough shot. We don't want to waste the opportunity.
Q. How bitter was your Finals?
LeBRON JAMES: How bitter? I got swept. I didn't win a game. It was very bitter. Every time I got knocked out of the playoffs it was bitter. Losing the Eastern Conference Finals to Orlando. Second round to Boston last year. Second round to Boston the year before in Game 7. It was all bitter times, man. I'm a competitor. I want to win.
Q. But that was the pinnacle? The Finals is the pinnacle.
LeBRON JAMES: Yeah, but if you lose, if you're a competitor, the Finals -- you're trying to -- you lose four games in the Finals and you lose a Game 7, that's kind of similar, to myself. After that Game 3, the confidence was -- we didn't have much confidence coming to Game 4. They were a better team. I said it after that series. They were the better team. San Antonio was the better team. We learned from that.
When you get to Game 7 against Boston, who eventually won the title, and we had -- it was one or two possessions we could have stole that game, I was hurting too.
Q. You talked about the things that drive you, motivation and fuel and all those things. Does something four years ago, like that Finals, is that something --
LeBRON JAMES: Absolutely. I think about it all the time. I even go back and watch some of those games and see how I wasn't that good of a player, especially on both ends of the floor. You just try to use those moments. There's no way I should be on the floor on a team that I can't win a game in a series. You use that as motivation.
You go in the next year and you are playing some great basketball, probably the favorite, and then you lose the Eastern Conference Finals to Orlando where a ball here, a bounce here, a bounce there, and then you win it.
And then seeing Boston two years in a row, where you get to Game 7 on their floor and you have an opportunity to win, and then last year, having an opportunity, being up 2-1 in the series, and losing that series. I got a lot of motivation. There's nothing I'm trying to go out and seek. But I've been in situations where I haven't succeeded, and trying to change it.
Q. LeBron when you look at how you guys closed out the game, you hit your last 24 free-throws, were you aware of that? Did you have a confidence when your teammates went to the line? Did you know you were in such a streak?
LeBRON JAMES: I was aware we missed four in a row in the fourth quarter. I was aware of that. We did a good job of being focused. When we get up to the free-throw line, those are the times where you don't have to play against their defense. You don't have to play against Chicago's defense when you're shooting free-throws. You have to try to maximize that opportunity. And we did it.
Q. You said Mike is a really good coach. What specifically about him stands out?
LeBRON JAMES: I think his drive, man. He coaches as if he was on the court and he wanted to play. He loves -- helped us get better every single day. We never wasted an opportunity to get better. It showed. Ultimately, we didn't win a championship, which we wanted to do in Cleveland. I know he wanted it bad. I wanted it. We didn't win. We got better every single day. We brought the fans in Cleveland what they hadn't seen before.
Q. Did you get any texts from L.A. about him?
LeBRON JAMES: No. Do you think L.A. texts me?
Q. Based on what you said last night, given a choice, would you rather make the game-winning shot or block the potential game-winning shot?
LeBRON JAMES: I mean, both of them are gratifying, honestly. Me being a defensive guy, I would rather have the defensive shot block. I have had a few in my career where I blocked a shot to end the game and we won the game or had to close out on free-throws.
It's gratifying. I have had a game-winning shot at the buzzer. Both of them are fun.
Q. I wanted to ask you this. Mike Miller told us when he hit that shot in the fourth quarter that he thought about his baby, who is in ICU. How often during the course of basketball do you think about the things that really matter in life?
LeBRON JAMES: You think about them all the time. Your family is a big part of what you do every day. When you're out on the court, you think about it. You don't want to let them down. You don't want to let your kids down, when you go home and those are the ones smiling and saying what happened, dad? Why did you miss that dunk? Why did you miss that play? Why did you turn the ball over? You want to be great for them.
Knowing Mike's situation, I think it was definitely a relief for him to play the way he played last night, thinking about his daughter at the same time.
Q. How much of a change is it for you when you have to bring the ball up, when it's you three with UD and --
LeBRON JAMES: Not much of a change. It's something I did all year. It's something I've done over my career, being a point forward. It's not a big change at all.
Q. It doesn't expend any more energy from you?
LeBRON JAMES: I'm in great condition, man.
LeBRON JAMES: I'm solid.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports