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NBA FINALS: HEAT v THUNDER


June 18, 2012


LeBron James


MIAMI, FLORIDA: Practice Day

Q.  If you go back to the Indiana series, you got Danny Granger in foul trouble, you got Paul Pierce in foul trouble and now you're getting Kevin Durant in foul trouble.  When you look at it and see the best player on their team guarding you, do you have a special focus of trying to get him in foul trouble?
LeBRON JAMES:  No, because that can take away from what you're trying to accomplish offensively.  I'm just being aggressive.  You know, whoever is in front of me, I just try to put pressure on him, no matter if it's KD or Harden or Sefolosha or whoever is guarding me.  I try to put pressure on their defense for myself and my teammates.

Q.  What was the moment like when Dwyane came up to you and did confirm or tell you that this was your team?  And how did that help you in your approach on the court?
LeBRON JAMES:  Well, for me, I just try to be a leader, out on the floor, in the locker room, and do whatever it takes for us to win basketball games.  You know, at the end of the day, they look at me to make plays.  They look at me to lead them.  But I'm not the only leader of this team, D Wade is also a leader.  Udonis is also a leader.  Chris is a leader.  Shane is a leader.  Everyone has leader aspects in their game.  But they just look at me, and when they look at me and they need something done and they need a play in a big game, I try to make it happen to the best of my ability.

Q.  Did that conversation surprise you or were you expecting it, or did it even need to be said?
LeBRON JAMES:  He told you how that conversation happened?

Q.  No, it was reported.  I don't know the exact conversation.
LeBRON JAMES:  Yeah.  That never happened.  (Smiling).

Q.  The three you made late in the third and then the lanes to the rim sort of reopened again in the fourth.  Is that coincidence, or did you guys need one to fall to switch things back up?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† We didn't have many perimeter shots that fell for us last night.¬† You know, it was a big shot.¬† We rode that wave that we had.¬† We was down 10, and we was able to go on a huge run, and it capped off with me making that three in the corner putting us up by two, and we was able to take that two‑point lead going into the fourth.
You know, Shane is our key guy right now, our only guy that's making perimeter shots, and even a few shots that we make from the outside, it opens it up for all of us because they have to respect the fact that we can make some shots outside the three‑point line or from the perimeter, and once that happened, then our attackers, myself, D Wade, CB, Rio at times, can make plays to get into the paint.

Q.  Dwyane was up here and Erik was up here saying that neither team might get to their best game this series because of the defense and the quality of the opposition.  You guys have won a lot of games ugly this season and ugly in these Playoffs.  Is that something that's to your benefit that you can win a gritty and grimy game if you have to?  Are you fine with that, if America doesn't see the greatness of the Heat, but if you get four, are you good with that?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† I don't give a damn how we get four.¬† We can win 32‑31.¬† It doesn't matter to me.¬† We can win any type of game.¬† We can win a gritty game, a high‑paced game, but we take every game as its own.¬† We don't go into a game saying this is what type of a game it's going to be.¬† We going into a game saying this is how we're going to play.¬† We're going to be aggressive, we're going to try to control the rebounding, have low turnovers, and we're going to try to get some good shots up, and try to get to the free‑throw line.¬† And at the end of the day, if we play to our identity like Spo always preaches to us, then we'll give ourselves a good chance to win.
Yeah, I don't care how we get four.

Q.  Can you talk about Pat Riley's presence on this team, what he means to you as a team and what he means to you individually and the way you go about the game.
LeBRON JAMES:  Well, for us as a team, he means a lot.  You know, he put together this team, and we just look at his résumé.  We look at his experience either as a player, as a coach or as an executive.  He's done some great things.
You know, me knowing the history of the game, he's been around great players.  He's been around Hall of Fame players and guys who have won championships, so any insight that he gives you, he's giving it because of experience.  He knows all about it.  He's won at the highest level multiple times.  You know, it's great to have him around and just hear those stories about some of the greatest players to ever play this game like Magic and Kareem, Worthy.  It's amazing.

Q.  What are some of the biggest changes in the relationship between you and Erik Spoelstra from the first month of the first season here to right now?
LeBRON JAMES:  It's trust.  I didn't know him, he didn't know me our first month together.  And now we're still growing each and every day, but our trust factor is great.  I mean, he trusts me on the floor to do things, you know, and that's great.  As a player, you feel confident when your coach allows you to make changes on the fly, and I have the utmost respect for him for allowing me to have that responsibility, where if I see something on the floor, I can just go with it, and I know I'm doing it for the best of the team, and he gives me that leeway.  So trust is the number one thing.

Q.  Bob McAdoo was talking about when he joined the Heat he talked about he had to finally join the Lakers to win a title and what have you.  What kind of advice did he help you through that process?  Obviously you got a lot of people that didn't like the way you came down to Miami and what have you.
LeBRON JAMES:  Well, the biggest thing is he made a sacrifice to join that team.  You look at Doo's résumé before he joined the Lakers, he was multiple MVP, multiple scoring champion, he could score with the best of them.  But I think he knew that if he was going to be joining the Lakers, he wasn't going to be that same player.  So he had to make sacrifices.
Now, I'm not saying that's me because I still have to play at a high level and Doo came off the bench for that Laker team, but I think sacrifice is the word I'm trying to say.  He had to make a sacrifice for the better of the team to win a championship.
Like I say, you talk about Pat Riley, you talk about Bob McAdoo who's done so many great things in this league, it's always good to have them around and just get that word from them because they experienced it.  The best teacher that you can have in life is experience, so it's great to have them.

Q.¬† Does that show in a way that even back then you had to kind of collect superstars, no matter how you did it, versus a little bit like‑‑
LeBRON JAMES:  Listen, I know the history of the game.  You've got to have superstars and stars to win a championship.  You've got to have a great coaching staff and a great organization.  But as many as Jordan won, he had a great supporting cast around him.  As many as Bird won, he had a supporting cast.  As many as Magic won, he had a supporting cast, same with Duncan.  I understand that you can't do it by yourself.  You've got to have guys around you, great players around you, then you've got to have role players, you've got to have a great coaching staff and a great organization and put it all together.

Q.  With this lineup you're most often at least the second biggest guy on the floor.  Have you had to change your mindset because of that?  And is that a reason you've had such success in the paint even going back to the Indiana series?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Yeah, I had to change my mindset.¬† I had to change it when Chris got hurt, that was a big part of our team, going out with an injury.¬† He put a lot of pressure on the rim.¬† And when he got hurt, he got an and‑one dunk.¬† So I understood I had to change my approach both offensively and defensively.¬† I had to rebound more, I had to attack more, get into the paint more to make up the difference with Chris being until he got back.¬† I just had to change, and it's kind of stayed that way since he got back.

Q.  You've kept that now, and is that a reason for the success, for example, last night in the paint especially?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† I don't know.¬† I try to‑‑ I do a little bit of everything.¬† I was able to have some success in the paint off either‑‑ in the post game or off cuts or off pick‑and‑rolls.¬† I tried to do a little bit of everything.¬† Last night they gave me the lane, I was able to get a couple offensive rebounds and get some put‑backs.¬† Then the second half I was able to come off some pick‑and‑rolls and get to the lane and make a few lay‑ups.

Q.¬† Would you say that being up 2‑1 in The Finals last year and then seeing it unravel stuck with you in the weeks and months following?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Yeah, of course it stuck with us, all the way to this day.¬† But we're a totally different team than we was last year when we was up 2‑1.¬† We're a totally different team.¬† We understand what it takes to win, and we've used that motivation, and we will continue to use that motivation.
But last year is last year, and we're not going into a Game 4 on someone else's floor.  We're going into a Game 4 on our floor with a lot of experience in this type of situation.  We'll be ready.  We love the challenge.

Q.  Fouls and free throws were critical last night.  Coach Spo was talking about avoiding fouls being a key.  Can you address that, and your ability at times to avoid fouls?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Well, I'm not much of a fouler, personally.¬† Our team, coming into the series, knowing Oklahoma City had shot‑‑ coming into the series they shot 90 percent from the free‑throw line.¬† So as many attack guys as they have and as well as they score the ball, you can't allow them to not only make tough shots, then also put them on the free‑throw line.¬† You can't give up both.
So we just try to make them take tough shots without fouling.¬† KD is a great free‑throw shooter, Westbrook is a great free‑throw shooter, and Harden knows how to attack guys.¬† We're just trying to do our best.¬† We're trying to keep our hands away from contact, contest without fouling.¬† And if they're going to make a contested jump shot or a contested lay‑up or things of that nature, then so be it.¬† They're going to do that anyways because they're great players.
We just try to play with our principles.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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