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NBA FINALS: HEAT v THUNDER


June 21, 2012


LeBron James


MIAMI, FLORIDA: Game Five

Oklahoma City Thunder - 106
Miami Heat - 121


Q.  After everything, you've had about an hour to soak it in.  I know that isn't a whole lot of time, but after all the times you've thought about what this moment feels like, was it better, was it what you envisioned?
LeBRON JAMES:  It's everything and more.  You know, I dreamed about this opportunity and this moment for a long time, including last night, including today.  You know, my dream has become a reality now, and it's the best feeling I ever had.

Q.  You've spoken so much about growing as a player and growing as a person over the last year.  Do you think where you are in your life now makes it even that much more special, and is there a pride that it wasn't just growth as a basketball player, but that you're in a better place as a person to really enjoy it now?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Absolutely, you said it perfect.¬† The fact that I have a family, a fianc√©e, two kids, supporting cast, supporting family, allows me‑‑ it took me to go all the way to the top and then hit rock bottom basically to realize what I needed to do as a professional athlete and as a person.¬† You know, I'm just happy that I was able to be put back in this position.¬† I trusted my instincts, I trusted my habits that I built over the years, and I just got back to just being myself, and I didn't care too much about what anyone said about me.¬† I just kind of made my own path, but did it the right way, and I'm happy I was able to do it the right way and do it for myself and not for anyone else.

Q.  On the podium I thought you said something interesting:  You said that the worst thing that you heard last year was that you're selfish because you've always prided yourself on being a team player.  Could you maybe elaborate on that more, hearing that, and how that fueled you.
LeBRON JAMES:  I mean, I heard it a lot.  Last year I let it affect me.  I told you guys over and over and over, I was playing to prove people wrong last year, and people would say I was selfish, and that got to me.  That got to me a lot because I know that this is a team game.  I know the coaches that I had when I was younger always preached about team.  There's no "I" in team, and to win a championship, no matter on which level, you have to do it as a team.  A lot of people were saying I was a selfish person and a selfish player, it got to me.  All last year I tried to prove people wrong, prove you guys wrong, and it wasn't me.  At the end of the day, I was basically fighting against myself.
The best thing that happened to me last year was us losing The Finals, you know, and me playing the way I played, it was the best thing to ever happen to me in my career because basically I got back to the basics.  It humbled me.  I knew what it was going to have to take, and I was going to have to change as a basketball player, and I was going to have to change as a person to get what I wanted.
You know, it happened just one year later.

Q.  In hindsight do you think that your journey to a title eight years later was just the natural growing pains of a player in the league, and maybe we judged you too early and your journey turned out to be almost like Michael's or Isiah's or Dirk Nowitzki's, where they had to wait a while?
LeBRON JAMES:  It was a journey for myself.  I don't want to compare it to any other player, but it was definitely a journey.  Everything that went along with me being a high school prodigy when I was 16 and on the cover of Sports Illustrated, to being drafted and having to be the face of a franchise, everything that came with it, I had to deal with and I had to learn through it.  No one had went through that journey, so I had to learn on my own.  All the ups and downs, everything that came along with it, I had to basically figure it out on my own.
You know, I'm happy now that eight years later, nine years later since I've been drafted that I can finally say that I'm a champion, and I did it the right way.  I didn't shortcut anything.  You know, I put a lot of hard work and dedication in it, and hard work pays off.  It's a great moment for myself.

Q.  At times you make it look very easy on the court.  How hard was this to win a championship?
LeBRON JAMES:  It was the hardest thing I've ever done as a basketball player, since I picked up a basketball when I was nine years old.  It's the hardest thing I ever done.  It's not easy at all.  You just put a lot of hard work into it, and hopefully one day you hope that it pays off for you.  You know, this was a testament to that.  I gave it my all, and it paid off for me tonight.

Q.  Right after the final whistle we saw you hugging and talking to Kevin Durant.  What were you talking about?  And do you actually feel like the No.1 player in the world right now?
LeBRON JAMES:  I think Kevin Durant is a hell of a player, one of the best players that we have in this league, hands down.  I basically told him I was proud of him, everything he achieved this year.  You know, he's going to use this experience, like I used it, as motivation.  Hopefully I don't continue to have to run into him because he's that great.  He's one of the best, on and off the court.
In the summertime we worked out together.  I envisioned it, but I didn't know it was going to happen, but to see a few months later that we was going to meet each other in The Finals, it was a great moment for myself and for him.
But as far as your second question, I don't know.  That's for you guys to write, to say if I'm the best player in the league or the No.1 player in the league.  All I know is I'm a champion, and that's all that matters.

Q.  This question isn't intended to bait you or intended as some negative question, but what would you say to the Cleveland fans tonight that wanted to share this moment with you, wanted to win this championship with you?  What words would you offer them?
LeBRON JAMES:  I mean, right here I'm sitting here as a member of the Miami Heat.  The hard work and dedication that we put in these last two years to get to this point, I mean, it was unbelievable.  I wanted to become a champion someday.  I didn't know exactly when it would happen, but I put in a lot of hard work.
For me, I'm happy.  I'm very excited.  I'm very happy right now to be a champion.  Nobody can take that away from me.

Q.  Can you give us your thoughts on the Thunder.  And you've been there, do you have any suggestions for KD or any of that group as to what it will take to reach that next step?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Well, first of all, I think it's a great team.¬† Like I said before, we're the two best teams in The Finals.¬† They create some unbelievable matchup problems with their attack, Russ and KD and James, and they have Ibaka the shotblocker, the phenomenal presence of Perkins and the list goes on.¬† Collison is a big‑time player, as well.
So they're going to be a team to be reckoned with for a lot of years because they're young, and they're going to use this experience as motivation.¬† You know, this is not the last time we'll see the Oklahoma City.¬† I wouldn't be surprised‑‑ this won't be the last time we see them in The Finals.

Q.  I wanted to ask you, your journey has taken you to very highs and very lows.  What have you learned about yourself as a ballplayer and as a man through your journey to the championship?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† The biggest thing I learned is that you can't control what people say about you, what people think about you.¬† You just have to be true to yourself and true to the people that surround you and your loved ones.¬† You know, like I said, I put a lot of hard work into this.¬† I took one week‑‑ I took, I think, one and a half, maybe two weeks off after we lost the NBA Finals, and I just got in the gym and I got back to the basics.
It just shows when you're committed and you give everything to the game, the game pays off and it gives back to you.

Q.  Does it make it any more special that you were able to do this in such a condensed season, 66 games, regular season games in four months, back to back to backs?  It must have gotten real tiring for you.  Does that make it even more special that it was so frenetic?
LeBRON JAMES:  I mean, condensed schedule, 66 games, 82 games, shoot, we could have played one regular season game.  Hey, man, I'm NBA champion, and it don't matter.
Love you guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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