CLEVELAND CAVALIERS MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 10, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
An Interview With:
LEBRON JAMES: First of all, what's up? What's up, kids? How are you doing? You all right?
First of all, I just want to say thanks, everyone, for being here. Obviously, this is my greatest day of the year. If you guys see me tweet earlier. This is my favorite day of the year because of these kids. Obviously, this is just a handful of what we're going to see today.
First, before I get started in answering questions and everything, I want Miss Desiree to come up here and give it all to them, what we're all here for.
>> : Hi, everyone. I just want to tell you I work for Akron Public Schools, and my boss, David James, the superintendent, is here with us today. We are an integral part of LeBron James Family Foundation for the Wheels For Education program. Wheels For Education helps our struggling learners, encourages them to show up for test dates. Parents get all kinds of incentives to help engage them in school, and this man here has promised to follow them through graduation.
Right now we have a couple of our sixth graders moving into middle school, and they're going to be the first graduating class, 2021. We also have our new class, 2024. We've got some exciting things ahead of us, and the kids feel that LeBron is with them 24/7. It's a great way to start off the school year. We're really excited to be here. Thank you so much.
LEBRON JAMES: So before we have questions, I just want to speak a little background. Obviously, you guys know this is where I'm from. This is where I'll be, and I'm excited to be here today because of these kids.
For me, playing the game of basketball has given me so much. But more importantly, I want to be able to give these kids, just give them hope and give them inspiration to make these kids' dreams come true and for them to be able to use me as the vehicle or use me as the inspiration, or whatever they need me for, I'm happy to provide for them through myself and my foundation and through the Akron Public Schools and so many people that has anything to do with what we do.
As far as giving back to these kids, I just want to thank, obviously, Akron itself, but Northeast Ohio and all of Ohio who support us because it's not?? today is not about me. It's not about Desiree, it's not about Akron, it's about these kids. That's what it's all about.
Obviously, I brought a lot of people here because a lot of people want to see me, whatever frame I'm in right now, but it's more about these kids, all of these kids, the different shapes and sizes and different smiles and different short lengths. You have some shorts?? those are almost pants.
But different personalities, man. These kids have the biggest dreams in the world. More than any of us here. And I feel like it's our obligation?? and if you're not up for it, it's my obligation to take yours and make these kids understand that their dreams can become realities.
It hit home for me because I was one of you guys. How old are you?
>> : 11.
LEBRON JAMES: 11. I remember being 11. How old are you?
>> : 8.
LEBRON JAMES: I remember being 8 and having the dreams of being whatever. I don't know, some days I wanted to be a super hero. Some days I wanted to be a fireman. Some days I wanted to be the President of the United States. Some days I wanted to be Michael Jordan. Some days I wanted to be Barry Sanders or Ken Griffey Jr., or you name it. I just wanted to be everybody that I felt at that time and age was doing something to inspire people, not knowing that I was going to be in their shoes later on in life.
So this is an exciting day for me. Like I said, this is my favorite day of the year because these kids will benefit from everything that I've accomplished in my career thus far.
Like I said, thanks for coming. Adam, you want to kind of open up for questions.
Q. Tom Withers, Associated Press. Welcome back, LeBron. This has always been a meaningful event for you. How much more special is it this year, being back home?
LEBRON JAMES: I think just coming back home, period, even the last four years when I was away, this event always brought me back, and understand what's important, what's important to me. I've always, even the last four years, just kind of throughout my professional career, for this moment, during this time.
To be here for these kids, to be able to see the smiles on their faces and what they benefit from is the education that they can receive from this and the guidance that they can receive from this, it meant so much to me.
So it's not an add?on because I'm here as a professional now, than it was last year or the year before that or the year before that.
Q. In your essay, you said you didn't realize how deep your connection was with Northeast Ohio. When did that occur to you?
LEBRON JAMES: I don't know, man. It just hit me. Sometimes you just have a feeling. Sometimes you kind of just realize what's going on and what's happening. It just hit me. That's how I was able to kind of?? through the letter, I was just able to speak through the heart, and it came off pretty well, I guess. That's what they say.
Q. LeBron, Todd Porter from the Canton Repository. What's it like to look out there and see not only the impact you have on these kids, but 30,000 people out there in Northeast Ohio?
LEBRON JAMES: It's pretty amazing. It's pretty amazing. I'm not going to sit up here and say it's not.
To be able to sit up here and say you inspire so many people from the youth to?? I heard they got a grandmas club now of 200?plus grandmas now. So I'm hitting all ranges as far as inspiration.
But to know that you can do things for people and give them hope and give them inspiration throughout a day?to?day basis, it means a lot to me. I understand that I'm a role model. I understand to these kids I'm more than a role model. I'm a super hero to them. I'm a father to them. I'm a brother to them, and whatever the case they want me to be on that particular day. So it's important.
Q. Kenny Rose, Sports Time Ohio, welcome back. When did you start considering returning home, and when did you know that you were coming home?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, I considered returning home after I got back from my vacation, which was not many days after I decided to actually do it.
I let my agent, Rich Paul, kind of handle everything as far as the business because I wanted to kind of get away from the game, and I promised my family that I would take them on a vacation and kind of get away from my phone and not mess with it too much because I knew it was going to happen.
So I think, once I got to Vegas from my basketball camp, I just started to kind of narrow down the teams. That's when I was able to sit with my agent and talk about the pros and cons of each team that we kind of talked to and narrowed it down. I kind of made my decision over those 48 hours, my last 48 hours in Vegas.
Q. Your contract, you signed a one and one with the option. Some fans are, oh, it's one and one, he could leave after a year. In the letter, in the essay, it sounds like you're here for the duration. Just your thoughts on that?
LEBRON JAMES: Yeah, at the end of the day, I'm a businessman as well, and I know what's going on in our league. I don't plan on going nowhere. No, I don't have?? I don't have the energy to do it again.
Q. LeBron, how do you feel about your?? to your right. How do you feel about your new Cavs teammates and the possibility of joining up with an all?star like Kevin Love?
LEBRON JAMES: For the current guys, I'm excited. I love Kyrie's game. I think he could be one of the best point guards in our league. I love the chip on Dion's shoulder. Where everyone else looks at it as a negative, I look at it as a positive, and I'm looking forward to getting with him.
I love how active Tristan is, both running the floor, both rebounding, setting screens, and finishing at the rim.
Obviously, I don't have to comment on Andy. You give me nine Andys, and I'll be the tenth guy, I'll be all right. I can win.
Then the rest of the guys on the team, I positioned us bing able to bring Mike Miller on, one of my favorite teammates, and James Jones from my days in Miami. To be able to bring on champions, that helps a lot in the locker room. It helps out on the floor because we've been there.
The early reports is that we're going to acquire Kevin Love. Obviously, it's not?? we can't really get too far into it because of the league rules and things of that nature. We don't know for sure. I'm not getting my hopes too high on it right now because I don't know what could happen from now until the 20?? what is it? You know it better than me.
LEBRON JAMES: Yeah, the 23rd. So at the 23rd mark, if he comes aboard and he signs, I can tell you I'm going to be very excited, very excited to have him. He's one of those guys?? I don't even care about the 26 and 12. I care about the basketball IQ. His basketball IQ is very, very high.
I had the opportunity to spend 32 days with him on the 2012 Olympic team. I always told him?? it's funny. I always told Kevin Love, like you're very good, man. Like he always thought I was like?? I got kids. I can't really?? blowing smoke. I don't even know if I should say that with the kids. Gassing him a little bit.
I always told him how he is going to be a reason why we won the gold medal, and he played a huge role for us being undersize as a big with just Tyson, myself, Melo, and Kevin Love.
I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully, it happens, and everything is done right from a league rule and standard. But he's a great piece.
Q. LeBron, Rachel Nichols, various Turner Networks.
LEBRON JAMES: That is true.
Q. That's right, portfolio. You're older now, not just in age, but in mind, from the last time you played here. How are you going to use this second phase of playing for the Cavaliers to, not just contribute to your foundation, but really get your hands into this city? And how important is that a goal for you going forward?
LEBRON JAMES: I think, first of all, just my presence alone will give back to the city. These kids are going to get most of it.
When I get on the floor, that's when the city will benefit from me being back because I play the game at a high level. I respect the game at a high level, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to help us win.
As far as what I do off the court, I'm going to help these kids and lead these kids to become greater than maybe even some of the people in their own household think they can become.
I think my presence alone will raise everyone's excitement, and not only in Cleveland, but in Akron and Northeast Ohio. But these kids is more important, as far as what I do off the court.
Q. Hi, in your Sports Illustrated article you said, in Northeast Ohio, nothing's given, everything's earned. What does that mean to you, specifically with your foundation?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, for me, growing up in a single parent household, everything was earned, and nothing was given to my mother. The way she approach life is she doesn't care about anything as long as her son benefits from everything and get whatever she grinds for.
That's basically where it came from. I seen my mother struggle a lot, and as I saw her struggle, I never wanted for anything. I have no idea how she did it.
Me being?? me having a wife and grandparents around and other helpers around every single day, it's still difficult to be a parent myself, and I got so much assistance and financially assistance as well that my mother nowhere near had, and she was able to do it by herself.
So that's where it basically comes from, that everything in our life was earned and not given.
Q. LeBron, thanks for the upcoming boost in the television ratings. You addressed it in the letter about the passion to bring a championship or championships to Northeast Ohio. How much is that going to drive you?
LEBRON JAMES: Besides off the court, I gave you what means the most to me. On the court, that's what means the most to me. It's my drive. It's my only drive.
Obviously, I understand that it's going to be a process. I'm going to?? you know, I've returned home, but it's a different situation than when I left it. The team that I left, we had been through the grind. We had been through the struggles. We had lost. We had won. Never got to the mountaintop, but we've been through so much. This is different.
So many great pieces on the team, but none of the guys, besides Andy, at this point, even if you include Kevin Love, you know, has been in pressure games in the NBA?? and Kevin Love has won a gold medal, I don't discredit that. Kyrie has done some great things, but there's not many guys on our roster besides myself, Andy, J.J., and Mike Miller that's done some great things. So I'm going to have to teach and lead and inspire those guys.
But my number one goal is to win a championship here. I think it will be the greatest achievement in my life, as far as on the court. Hopefully, I?? that's my goal. I've been back in the lab. So when I get focused, I really go in. So I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Q. LeBron, Jeff, USA Today. I know in the Sports Illustrated essay, you seemed to indicate that time and patience would be required. There's been some roster additions plus Kevin Love. Does that change the time frame for you to do it? And what did you come away with from your meeting with David Blatt?
LEBRON JAMES: It's not going to change. It's still a process. Even my first year in Miami, we went through a process and went through some tough times. We were 9?8 at one time, and things didn't look like they were going to get right, and we figured it out, but we still ended up losing The Finals. I feel like that catapulted us to win back?to?back championships.
Even with the veterans that we've brought in, even if we're able to acquire Kevin Love in the two weeks from now?? or less than two weeks, whatever it is?? it's still going to be a process. I know that. I know that firsthand. It was a process when I was here in Cleveland to even get to The Finals in '07, get to the Eastern Conference playoffs, get to The Finals in Miami, and we went four straight times, but it was always a process each and every year no matter what you go through.
So it's going to be a challenge for us because, like I said, a lot of these guys that's going to be playing big minutes for us haven't been through it. They haven't been through it. In order to be successful, you've got to have some pitfalls, and I know. I know firsthand.
To answer your second question, it was just Coach Blatt heard that I was in New York two weeks ago. I was shooting a movie, and he stopped by, brought his daughters with him. I got an opportunity to meet his daughters and meet him and just sit down and just kind of talk about a little bit of everything, the team, how was the movie going. He actually was on set and watched a little bit of the movie. He said, I hope you're not?? I hope I don't say this, but you might be a better actor than you are a basketball player. So that made me get in the gym.
So I think he's going to be cool. I think Coach is going to be great. Obviously, I'm going to spend some more time with him. But the first thing I did when I decided to come back, I went online, and I looked up David Blatt's offense because I heard he was an offensive guy. I watched all his clips from him coaching at Maccabi, and I kind of broke them down to see how I fit. Obviously, I can fit in every position on the floor, so I just watched it
Not only Coach Blatt, but also Coach Lue and James Posey and the rest of those guys and Phil Handy. There's so many guys on the coaching staff that I'm looking forward to kind of being around.
You dropped something. That's a Samsung too, by the way. I'll tell you, it won't break.
I'm looking forward to it. That's my next phase. I'm looking forward to getting with Coach Blatt and getting things going. I wish it was?? what is it right now? August 8th? I wish it was September 8th and camp was starting in 20 days. But I've got a little bit of time, and I'm not going to rush it.