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NBA FINALS: HEAT v THUNDER


June 20, 2012


LeBron James


MIAMI, FLORIDA: Practice Day

Q.  Can you take us through the last 24 hours of treatment, where you stand with the cramps, what you were able to do today, and how you think you'll be able to do tomorrow?
LeBRON JAMES:  I feel a lot better than I did last night.  That's clear.  I'm able to walk up here even better than I did last night when I talked to you guys.  I'm still a little more because of the muscles just kind of being at an intense level, very tight.  I'm still sore.  I was able to get some treatment last night.  I was able to get some treatment this morning.
We prepared for Game 5 a little bit today.  We didn't do very much running and things of that nature, but I think I'm going to used today as an opportunity to continue to improve with my legs.  And also with the game being basically at midnight tomorrow night, I have all day tomorrow, too, to prepare.  I should be fine by tomorrow night.

Q.  Going back even to like the summer, you've talked about different approach, focus, mindset, all of those things, and throughout the postseason you haven't changed the approach one bit.  How much more difficult will that be for you the next 36 hours?  And also, do you have any idea what you're going to say?  We hear some of the huddles obviously.  Do you have any idea what you're going to say to guys tomorrow night?
LeBRON JAMES:  Well, my approach won't change and it won't be difficult.  I have a job to do, and my job is not done.  You know, I've been very focused, and I'm determined for us to play at a high level.  So I will make sure my guys are ready for Game 5, and we will be prepared.  Coach Spo and the coaching staff will give us a great game plan.  And I'll make sure myself and my teammates are ready to execute it.
I have no idea what I'll say before we go out there.  It kind of just comes to me when I'm getting ready to go out there and stand on the floor.  But hopefully whatever I say will inspire our guys to go out and give a good show.

Q.  Where did the reading program come from and what has that done for you throughout this Playoffs?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† It just slows my mind down.¬† It just gives me another outlet.¬† Throughout the Playoffs, all you think about is basketball.¬† All you want to do is play basketball.¬† But at the same time it can become a lot.¬† It can become to a point where it's overloading to the mind, and you think about it too much.¬† It's hard to get away from it because you're playing every other day, you talk about it every single day, you prepare every single day.¬† So being able to‑‑ the reading has gave me an opportunity to justfor those couple hours of the day or those 20 minutes, 25 minutes before the game, just gives me an opportunity just to read and think about something else, and get a sense of what else is going on besides the game of basketball.¬† It's made me comfortable.¬† I'm not saying it's the trick.¬† It's just something that I decided to do at the beginning of the postseason, and it's worked for me.

Q.  I wonder if you can just indulge a couple of bad Finals memories here for a second.  What do you recall about 2007, and what do you remember about your feelings sitting there on that podium around this time last year after Game 6?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† I don't remember too much of 2007.¬† I know I was young and inexperienced.¬† As a team we was inexperienced, and we ran into a San Antonio Spurs team who had already won, I think, three of them to that point, and they had been in that moment, and they showed it.¬† So they kind of‑‑ in Game 3 I think we had an opportunity to win that game, but after that game they kind of put us to bed in Game 4.
Last year after Game 6, after losing, once again, I was very frustrated.  I was very hurt that I let my teammates down, and I was very immature.  Like I said, last year I played to prove people wrong instead of just playing my game, instead of just going out and having fun and playing a game that I grew up loving and why I fell in love with the game.  So I was very immature last year after Game 6 towards you guys and towards everyone that was watching.
One thing that I learned, and someone taught me this, the greatest teacher you can have in life is experience.  I've experienced some things in my long but short career, and I'm able to make it better of myself throughout these Playoffs and throughout this whole year, and that's on and off the court.
I'm just happy that I'm able to be in this position today and be back in this stage where I can do the things that I can do to make this team proud, make this organization proud, and we'll see what happens.

Q.¬† So much talk about you and KD kind of mano‑a‑mano, and most people are saying you've gotten the best of him so far.¬† Do you see it that way?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† No.¬† At the end of the day, coming into this series, this‑‑ you know, I'm a historian of the game and I love the history of the game, so coming into this series, this reminded me of ‑‑ I wasn't able to watch it live, but I know the history of the game, so it reminded me of the '91 Finals of the Bulls and the Lakers.¬† The whole world was so excited to finally see Michael Jordan versus Magic Johnson in The Finals.¬† They didn't really care about the Lakers and the Bulls going against one another, it was all about Magic and Jordan.
That's what it was about coming into this series.¬† You know, everyone was excited to finally get an opportunity to see two of the best players go head to head, myself and KD, but for me personally, it's not a head‑to‑head battle.¬† When I go out on the floor, I do want to dominate the guy in front of me, but this is a team game, and I have all the trust in my teammates, and I try to do everything that needs to be done individually to help our team win.
I really don't get involved into the head‑to‑head battle as far as outside the lines of the basketball court.

Q.  You talked about the things that you wanted to do better after last year, and one of the things you did was go to Houston.  Have you heard from Hakeem recently about your progress in the post, and when you look back at what you did at that point, do you see it manifesting now?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Yeah, I've talked to him three times since the postseason started.¬† He asked me if I've been watching the film.¬† He tells me to continue to do what I've been doing and continue‑‑ staying in the post will get you easy buckets, and he also tells me to continue to have fun.¬† That's the thing he noticed with me this year.¬† He's seen me have a lot of fun, and I give a lot of thanks to him for allowing me to go down there and work with him for that week, and instill a part of my game that I felt like needed to be worked, and I was happy that I was able to go and join him and get work on it.

Q.¬† Erik was saying last night that a lot of things that you guys have done in the last week or two are not things that he thinks you guys as a team could have done last year, everyone of course armchair‑analyzes you on that.¬† But I wanted to ask you what you think.¬† Do you think that you would have been able to come in, cramping, make that shot, that three‑pointer and sort of have the mental focus to do that last year?
LeBRON JAMES:  I don't know because I wasn't in that position to be cramping, I guess, in Game 4.  But I didn't make enough plays in Game 4 last year, I'll tell you that.
Like I said before the series started and before this postseason started, I wanted to make game‑changing plays because that's who I am, and that's what separates me from a lot of players, that I try to go out there and make game‑changing plays every single game, plays that may seem out of reach or may seem out of range, I try to make those plays.¬† I didn't do that last year in The Finals, and that's what stuck with me more than anything.
Like I said last night when I talked to you guys, I'm happy that I was able to be in a position last night even with the limited mobility that I had, I was able to be in a position to make a game‑changing play from that three.

Q.  When have you felt that pressure most through these Playoffs?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† The pressure?¬† I haven't really felt it that much.¬† Last year it was much more than it is today.¬† I remember being Game 5 last year with the series tied 2‑2, it just felt more pressure, felt like it was more people here, felt like you guys not only brought yourselves but brought your relatives all into Dallas.¬† It just seemed more.
And I may be wrong.  I probably am wrong about that.  But I'm just more comfortable.  I think just me being more comfortable and me just trying to seize an opportunity.  This is my third crack at it.  First of all, I'm blessed because a lot of people, first of all, never go to The Finals.  Second of all, if they go, they never go back.  And this is my third opportunity.  So I'm just trying to make the most of it.  And like I said, win, lose or draw, I'm giving my all, and I'm going to be happy.  I'll be satisfied with that.

Q.  You kind of just mentioned it, but you had these two opportunities.  What does it feel like now in the moment right now to be one game away?  And what do you think of the challenge of getting it done?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† For me I'm not‑‑ I haven't even really looked at it as just one game away.¬† I look at it as this is our next game.¬† As crazy as it sounds, I haven't got caught up in it.¬† I won't get caught up in it because I'm not going to let‑‑ you know, the human nature is to automatically think about after we win it, what are we going to do.¬† I'm not there.¬† I won't get there until those zeros hit and I see that we won.¬† I'm the leader of this team, and I'm not comfortable right now.¬† I'm comfortable in my game, but I'm not going to be comfortable until we seal this thing.
Game 5 is a Game 7 for us, you know, and it's a must‑win for them, but it's a must‑win for us, too, and as a leader of this team, I'll approach it that way, and hopefully I won't have to be dealing with cramps tomorrow night.

Q.  You said you're not really feeling pressure, but do you have to shut anything down as far as phones or friends or family, because while you're trying to stay in the moment other people may not be?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Yeah, they've already been‑‑ since the postseason started everyone has been shut down.¬† They understand what I've been going through over the years.¬† My family has just been allowing me to just play the game and not worry about everything else that's going on.¬† They wouldn't dare get in my way at this point.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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