In case you missed it, here is what LeBron James had to say Sunday night after helping Cleveland stun Boston and get him back to the NBA Finals again.
Q. Finals No. 9 and eight in a row, but we all know what this year has been like. So how gratifying is this to get back, just given everything that you’ve been through?
LEBRON JAMES: To be honest, I haven’t even really kind of processed it. It was a great atmosphere tonight to be a part of that, be a part of another Game 7 on the road. Those are things, like I said, when you’re done playing the game, you can only dream and wish that you could be a part of that once again. I haven’t really processed the fact about going back to another Finals yet. I know that’s where we’re headed. I commend my teammates and my coaching staff and everybody that put the work in, even some of our staff that is not in the limelight, behind the scenes. This was a complete team effort.
Q. I thought the 2012 game when you scored 48 against Boston was your signature game here. Can you talk about where today fits in your competition against Boston?
LEBRON JAMES: I don’t know. I just know it’s the present, and that’s what I’m all about. I’m a guy who lives in the present. For me, I just want to try to make plays tonight to help our ballclub win, to put myself in position, put my teammates in position to be successful. We were able to do that.
Q. That postgame moment you had with Al Horford, particularly Jayson Tatum, can you put that into words, and was anything said between you guys?
LEBRON JAMES: There was a lot said, but more importantly, it was just a mutual respect and the competition. Me and Al, we’ve had a lot of battles in the postseason and been on a lot of All-Star teams together. I’ve always had a lot of mutual respect for Al and the way he conducts himself, not only as a player but as a professional, both on and off the floor. That was the moment there.
And then with Jayson, I just love everything about the kid — the way he plays the game, his demeanor, where he comes from. I know his parents. I just know he’s just built for stardom. He’s built for success. And that’s both on and off the floor. Two guys right there that — Boston is very lucky to have them.
Q. I know you said you’re still processing this Finals trip, but the energy needed this season to get to this point, how would you compare it to other seasons where you’ve gotten to this point?
LEBRON JAMES: It’s what’s been asked of me, and I have to be able to just try to figure it out. I don’t know how I can compare it to other seasons because I can only think about this one in the present. It was asked of me tonight to play the whole game, and I just tried to figure out how I could get through it. Throughout timeouts, I was able to catch my breath. At halftime, I didn’t come out and warm up. That was my time to recalibrate and catch my wind again. It’s what’s been asked of me from this ballclub. I’m the leader of this team, and I’m going to give what I’ve got. My teammates, they respect that.
Q. You’ve said late in the regular season that this has felt like five seasons in one. You guys have been buried and resurrected and buried and resurrected. Is there a lesson there to be gleaned where you guys sit now on the brink of the NBA Finals?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, it’s now six. It was five, now it’s six. It’s now six seasons in one. I guess this is the last chapter for our team in this season. It’s been a whirlwind. I mean, it’s been Cedar Point. Sorry for you guys that don’t know much about Cedar Point, but it’s been a roller coaster. It’s been good, it’s been bad, it’s been roses. There have been thorns in the roses. There’s been everything that you can ask for.
I’ve said this has been one of the most challenging seasons I’ve had. But like I told you guys, you guys are around us every day, right before the break, right before the trade deadline, I kind of reset. Didn’t know if we were going to make trades or not. Didn’t know what we were going to do with our team.
But I just kind of reset my mindset and said, OK, this is the season and let’s try to make the most of it. That’s what’s gotten me to this point, gotten our team to this point.
Q. What does it say about Jeff Green, the way he rose to the occasion both in Game 6 and today?
LEBRON JAMES: His number was called, and he just answered the call. It’s amazing. Listen, at the end of the day, what he does on the basketball floor is extra credit. This guy had open-heart surgery a few years ago. The game was basically taken away from him, and they said it’s possible you’ll never play the game of basketball again. The fact that he can put on a uniform every day and do the things that he does out on the floor — I don’t care if he makes a shot. To make big plays like he made tonight — for him personally, it’s the cherry on top because the game was taken away from him. So for him to be able to do what he did last game after Kev’s injury and then obviously start tonight, it’s big time.
Q. Ty Lue said that negative Cavs news sells. Talk about how frustrating it is that people constantly criticize your team over and over again?
LEBRON JAMES: I mean, I don’t know because I don’t really hear it. I don’t really get involved in it. I kind of know the narrative throughout the season if we lose. If we have a bad month, I already know what’s going to happen on the outside world. I’ve been a part of it. If we win, I know the narrative. I get it. It’s all a part of the storyline.
But me personally, I don’t really get involved in it. I’m kind of over that at this point in my career. But I think Coach Lue, he feeds off of it. Some of our teammates kind of feed off of it, on just people counting us out and counting them out personally. I think this tonight was another example of counting my guys out, saying they’ve been struggling, they won’t play well on the road and whatever the case may be. And counting my coach out. I think they all rose to the occasion.
Q. Along the theme of what we’ve been talking about, there were some really bad losses this year and some bad moments and team meetings and everything else. Was there ever a moment where you lose hope that this is not salvageable, and how do you not if you don’t — how do you keep the faith and keep the hope that you can pull this back together?
LEBRON JAMES: I mean, if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. I wouldn’t tell you. (Laughter.)
That’s a good question. You tried to get me there, right?
Q. In a few days you’re going to be playing one team that’s really, really good. People are going to say you guys are the underdogs. What gives you the confidence that you can get this done this year?
LEBRON JAMES: At the end of the day, the game is won in between the lines, and we have an opportunity to play for a championship. That’s all that matters. No matter what the storyline is going to be, no matter if we’re picked to win or not, let’s just go out and play ball. We’re going to have a great game plan. We’re going to try to get better throughout the series, and we’ll see what happens. For me, I don’t know, I’m kind of like the wrong guy to ask because I just like to compete. I have a love for the game. I have a passion for the game, and everything else will take care of itself.
Q. At 35-23, what let you know, even though shots weren’t falling for you and your teammates, that it was possible to get back in it and win the game?
LEBRON JAMES: I think defensively we were just very, very sharp. Very, very sharp. We were flying around. We were moving around and that continued to just keep us into the game. Even with some of the plays that we made in the first half where we weren’t knocking down shots, I always kept my confidence in my teammates and know that if we had the same opportunity in the second half they were going to knock them down. And they did just that.
Q. With this streak, you’ve had a conference full of rivals that have been trying to catch and pass you and your teams. Is there a cumulative satisfaction to knowing that whoever it is, however long they’ve tried, none of them have done it yet?
LEBRON JAMES: It’s been a satisfaction in the fact that I like to be successful. But more importantly, just the work that I put into it. I mean, it’s an every-single-day work ethic that I have while I’m playing this game, while I have the ability to play this game at this level. I love the competition. I think about the teams that I’ve played over this run and the players that I’ve played over this run, slightly. But more importantly, me just being healthy. I’ve been healthy throughout this run. I put a lot of work into my body, into my craft. Being available to my teammates and being available to my franchise, the two franchises I’ve been with, and throughout this run is what’s been more important to me than anything. Always being available.
I’ll be available for at least four more games. And we’ll see what happens.