LEBRON JAMES TALKS ABOUT THE NBA FINALS
June 12, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
MIAMI, FLORIDA: Practice Day
Q. LeBron, this was some of what an uneven season. Defensive struggles along the way, trying to find rhythm, some losses that were unexpected. Are you surprised that some of the problems you had during the season could resurface this late in the game like the defensive struggles, some of the uneven bench play, and how much of a concern is that?
LeBRON JAMES: Oh, well, I mean, we have to fix some things for sure, but I'm not too concerned. I believe in our system, believe in our teammates and we have to for sure play a better game than we did in Game 3. We learn from our mistakes and we have to bring a better approach or better physical mindset into Game 4.
Q. Do you think some bad habits?? you spoke about this during the season, maybe too many bad habits set in and maybe they came to roost a little later now in the playoffs?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, you hope not. I don't believe so. I believe we've played pretty good basketball throughout the postseason, so I don't believe they'll come back. That was something we were going through the regular season and we've pretty much cleaned up.
Q. How was a two?hour film session like with Coach Spoelstra?
LeBRON JAMES: It's pretty demanding, for sure. He gets up under us and we've got to own our mistakes, and that's what it was all about.
Q. The way The Finals obviously is and how crucial every loss is, when you think back to Game 1 and the circumstances of that one and you think about Game 3 and how you guys came out, does that make those losses even more painful thinking about it?
LeBRON JAMES: No, I mean, a loss is a loss in the postseason, and a loss is a loss in the Finals. I mean, they're all painful no matter if you lose by 30 or you lose by 1. They're all painful. That's what it's about when you get to this point in the season.
Q. Have you ever been a part of a game that it seemed like the other team was just making everything, like the Spurs were last night?
LeBRON JAMES: Not that I can recall. I've been a part of some really good shooting teams, playing against them. But obviously, it's still fresh in my mind. So not that I can recall.
Q. Is that because they were just hot or your mistakes more so?
LeBRON JAMES: It was a combination of both.
Q. How do you guys keep Mario from ? he said just now this is a tough Finals for him and his confidence is starting to shift. How do you keep him up because you guys are going to need him?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I mean, we do. He's been our starting point guard in our back?to?back championship runs and he played a key role in it. And he can't lose confidence in himself.
We can give?? at the end of the day, you can give a guy as much confidence as you want, but when a guy loses confidence in himself, it can be all downhill, and that's one thing he can't do. He can't lose confidence in himself or his abilities.
We need him out on the floor to make plays. He's our point guard. He puts us in our sets and we need him to make shots. But more than anything, we need him just to demand being a point guard and being reliable offensively, being reliable defensively, and putting himself and our teammates in position to succeed, and that's what it's about. You can't lose confidence in yourself more than anything.
Q. You guys haven't lost back?to?back playoff games since 2012. What is the process like of bouncing back in the playoffs? Is it fair to say that you're comfortable in this situation, though you'd rather not be in it?
LeBRON JAMES: No, you're not comfortable. You never get comfortable in a playoff series ever. You're always on edge throughout the whole series until it's over, either with a win or a defeat. So you're never comfortable. You just try to learn from your mistakes that you made in the previous game, and not make the same ones the next game.
Q. You've had your share of guys who attempted to challenge your talent. Indiana, Paul George, and Lance Stephenson. Could you talk about the challenges of Kawhi Leonard, playing him and the game he had last night?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, Kawhi had a really impactful game last night. It started off with him going to the free?throw line. That always helps you get a free throw or a lay?up, and then he got a breakaway dunk and a transition three, and that kind of got him into the flow of things, so he kept it going.
He's a really good talent, and he's a big piece of their puzzle. So it's challenging, for sure. But at this point, it should be.
Q. Erik talks about it owning mistakes. What is that process? How are mistakes owned in the video session?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, don't talk back to the coach is how it's owned. Let him make his point, whether he's right or wrong, and you live with it and move on. That is the number one key. I've learned that over the years.
Q. Chris's touches were way down yesterday from the first two games. Is that just a product of the game kind of getting scrambled and you guys trying to will it back? Or was there something happening early in the game, too?
LeBRON JAMES: Yeah, I think so. I think the game was getting out of control. We're trying to get in some drive?and?kicks for threes, things of that nature and it kind of got lost. We hate when that happens because he's too big for our team for him to ever get lost. He didn't miss a shot last night, but he didn't take many. He only took four shots and we can't allow that to happen for us to be successful.
So I believe everybody was a little out of rhythm just because of the fact of how they jumped on us, and it was all scramble mode from that point. So we all have to do a better job. But not only seeing Chris, getting Rio, myself, everyone has to be in a good rhythm.
Q. When did you realize at what point of your career that it was not wise to talk back to coaches in film sessions?
LeBRON JAMES: Quite a few years ago when you realize that it wouldn't change anything. You know, the coach is going to believe ?? you know, the coach is always right. It's like a teacher, they're always right. And that's fine. That's fair. They make the rules, and we've got to live by them.
Q. You said a few minutes ago you're not too concerned. Do you ever get concerned or what would concern you?
LeBRON JAMES: Concerned with what?
Q. You said you had to fix some things but you're not too concerned.
LeBRON JAMES: I don't remember. What was the question? Concerned with some of our??
Q. What's going on right now. What happened last night.
LeBRON JAMES: Did I say that?
Q. I wrote it down. I don't remember the question exactly.
LeBRON JAMES: You don't remember the question? I think that was coming off Ira's question, him saying am I concerned about our bad habits we had in the regular season. And I said I'm not too concerned about that because we played some good ball over the postseason. So that's different from am I concerned about us losing last night or losing another game.
You're always on edge in the postseason, but I don't want to be concerned at this point. For us we have to make the adjustments. We owned, like I said, what we had to do today in the film session and we'll come in with a better mindset tomorrow. But that doesn't mean it results in a win, too. But we have to play with a little bit more focus and a little bit more challenge.
Q. Is Rio the type of guy that you have to get in his head or do you let him figure whatever it is out kind of through his own or in his own way?
LeBRON JAMES: Obviously, it's weighing on him. It's in his head right now, I think. He hasn't said much. I don't know what he said to you guys. I haven't heard many of his clips. Obviously, I don't read the clips, I don't hear them. So his confidence may be a little shaken. I'm not quite sure, but he can't lose confidence in himself.
As a leader, I'm going to give him as much confidence as I can, and I'm going to stay on him. Obviously, I've been a?? maybe I need to get back on him like I used to do in the past when you guys used to see me really get on him. I've kind of laid off of him. Maybe that wasn't the right thing to do.
But he can't lose confidence in himself. That is the number one thing, and as teammates, we'll make sure we keep him up.
Q. He said that's kind of where it's going. He just said that out there. But at the same time he said that's got nothing to do with the summer, the contract, free agency, what might happen to him, what might happen around here. Do you believe that that isn't at least in some way playing some role with what's going on?
LeBRON JAMES: I mean, I would hope not, but I'm not Mario Chalmers and I'm not sure what goes through his mind. I mean, this is the NBA Finals, but also it is his livelihood that he's playing for as well, you know, with him being a free agent this summer. So I'm not quite sure. All I can do as a leader of this team is try to maintain and let him know what the job is at hand. I understand that he's a point guard on a championship team and we need him. We do. I mean, he's been key for us throughout these runs. But obviously right now he's been struggling a lot. But the number one thing is he can't lose confidence in himself. Before we can give him confidence as a teammate, he has to believe in himself that he can make plays and just be out there and be reliable.
Q. You guys have a must?win game tomorrow. Are you going to do any special preparation like yoga?
LeBRON JAMES: No, probably not. I'll follow my same routine. Get up for morning shootaround and start preparing in the afternoon and get back here and start preparing for the game.
I don't plan on it unless something changes.
Q. Before Game 1 in San Antonio I asked you about the factor of Micky Arison picking a team to come to years ago. You said the first priority for you was playing with Chris and Dwyane, and then it was looking at Riley and Spoelstra. When you evaluate your future, are you going to prioritize in that kind of order, who I can play with and then from there who is building the team, who is owning the team, et cetera?
LeBRON JAMES: I don't know how I'll prioritize it this summer or in the future. That's kind of like on the back burner right now, me figuring out how I'm going to prioritize Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard and Duncan, and Danny Green and Ginobili, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter, and the list goes on and on, Matt Bonner, Gregg Popovich, and Ime Udoka and those kind of guys. That is the last thing I'm thinking about right now. Not prioritize me going into the future.
Q. In that vein, what defensive adjustments did you guys have to make? Or was that one of those games that you just got hot and you lived with it?
LeBRON JAMES: Some of it was mental breakdowns, and the mental breakdowns happened early. Then it was an avalanche, and they started to get hot. Against the Spurs, any little minor mistake you make they'll make you pay. And when you let them get in such a groove like they had last night, even when you are on top of things, once they got to the groove, there was no slowing them down.