LeBron James All-Star Saturday Interview
My newest CavsNews article provides a glimpse into LeBron James' media availability session after Saturday afternoon's All-Star practice at the Jam Session Court (6/19/15 edit: the link to CavsNews.com no longer works, so I have posted the original article below):
Cavaliers are two games ahead of the defending champion L.A. Lakers in the race
for the NBA’s best regular season record—and the Cavs’ lead is really in effect
three games because the Cavs swept the head to head season series—yet the Cavs
only have one participant in the various All-Star Weekend activities: LeBron
James, the 2009 NBA MVP who made the All-Star team for the sixth straight year.
Mo Williams is putting up roughly the same numbers he did while earning a 2009
All-Star selection (averaging slightly fewer points but slightly more assists)
but his shoulder injury shortly before the All-Star break likely killed
whatever opportunity he may have had to be selected as a reserve by the Eastern
Conference coaches. Shaquille O’Neal’s slow start statistically damaged his
chances of earning a 16th All-Star berth even though he played a
major role in Cleveland’s
victories over the Lakers and the Orlando Magic, last year’s NBA Finalists.
While it is perhaps understandable that due to the aforementioned reasons the
Cavs only have one All-Star, it is strange that the Cavs’ three point shooting
prowess failed to land either Anthony Parker or Daniel Gibson in the Three
In the long
run, though, such perceived slights may simply provide extra motivation for the
Cavs as they position themselves for the stretch drive of the regular season in
preparation for the 2010 playoffs. During Saturday’s All-Star media
availability session, James said, “I think that it’s just an ongoing story with
our franchise being the butt of jokes…not getting the respect that we thought
that we should have had last year: it took three or four injuries last year for
Mo (Williams) to be an All-Star when we were the best team in the league. Once
again we are the best team in the league but Mo got no consideration and Shaq
got no consideration. We have three of the top three point shooters in the
league but we have no three point shooters in the Three Point Shooting contest
tonight. But at the end of the day we have to earn it by going out and playing
what I like to call “pole position” (i.e., standing right next to him) during
James’ media availability; unless you are a TV cameraman, you have a long boom
mike or you possess exceptional hearing, “pole position” is very important.
Here is a sampling of what James said about a wide range of topics. Questions
that I asked directly are in quotation marks; other questions are paraphrased
because it was not always possible to understand them verbatim. James’ answers
are presented in bold typeface:
You have said
that the Cowboys are your favorite NFL team. How much are you looking forward
to playing in Cowboys Stadium?
It’s going to be fun. I think it’s
exciting. I think it’s going to be electrifying. There are going to be a lot of
people there, 90-100,000, so it’s going to be really exciting and really fun.
you compare Cleveland’s roster this year with
the roster you had when Cleveland
made it to the NBA Finals in 2007?”
Oh, we’re better. I think
potential-wise we’re a better team than we were in 2007 but we did catch a hot
streak in 2007, got hot at the right time in the playoffs, played well in the
playoffs and that’s why we were able to advance to the Finals. But, I think
that potential-wise we are better than we were three years ago.
Do you regret
that the All-Star break happened right as you are riding a 13 game winning
Yeah, of course, you want to play well
and continue to play well going into the break and after the break. We wish we
could have continued to play but guys need rest. We have a lot of veterans. We
had a lot of nicks and bruises, especially with Delonte (West) and with Mo
(Williams), so it gives guys an opportunity to rest their bodies and get ready
for after the break.
is the first Israeli player in the NBA. What do you think of his game?
He’s a very good player. He’s going to
continue to get better. He’s young and the good thing about their team (Sacramento Kings) is that
he has young guys to grow with him, Tyreke Evans being one of them, Jason
Thompson being another one—they can all grow together. He’s very athletic and
he can shoot the ball extremely well, so he’s going to have a good career.
Team is a Hall of Fame Finalist this year. What are your memories of watching
that team play and what kind of impact did that have on you as a kid?”
The most obvious thing is how badly
they just dominated the rest of the world and one of my real memories, though,
is how they dominated teams and the teams wanted to take pictures with them.
That is a memory I will never forget.
What do you
like to do off of the court?
I play video games a lot. I play six,
seven times a week. I play a lot of video games, a lot of hours out of my day.
I play Xbox 360, Army of Two and I play NBA2K10. I just finished my season of
Madden—I played three or four teams.
What do you
think of the Boston Celtics this year? They have not been playing well recently.
The funny thing about it is they are
still one of the top teams in the NBA. I mean, you lose a few games—people get
so spoiled and think that you can win all the time, so when you lose a few
games people wonder what is going on. They are a very experienced team, a great
team. They’ve got three of the best players in the league on one team with Paul
(Pierce), Ray (Allen) and KG (Kevin Garnett), plus (Rajon) Rondo is having an
unbelievable season—he absolutely should be an All-Star. So I’m not looking too
far into it (in terms) of this team going down. There is no team in the NBA as
players who look at Boston
and say, “They’re falling off.” That is still a team to be reckoned with.
What will it
be like playing basketball in a football stadium? Have you ever done that
I’ve never played in one before. I
watched (a basketball game in a football stadium) once before, when Davidson
played Wisconsin two years ago I think it was, when Stephen Curry played in
(the NCAA Tournament) in Ford Field in Detroit. I have no idea how to prepare
for something like this—90,000 people at a basketball game, that will be like a
rock concert…It’s going to be really loud and it’s going to be fun…It won’t
take me long (to adjust); when the lights go on I’ll be ready.
Do you have
any advice for Gerald Wallace in the Slam Dunk Contest?
I have no idea what to do in the Slam
Dunk Contest. That is why I decided not to be a part of it but I’m looking
forward to it. It’s going to be fun. There are some athletic guys in it. I look
forward to seeing it.
What kind of
guy is Dwight Howard?
What you see is what you get with
Dwight. People see him having fun, loving the game, laughing and enjoying life
and that is exactly how Dwight is. He’s a big kid and you want to have fun when
you play the game of basketball because there is so much that goes on with the
game that if you take it too seriously it can definitely bring you down.
concerned about the Cavs possibly peaking early?
You would rather be riding a high wave
than a low wave. It’s something that you can’t control but at the same time we
know that we want to play our best ball in late March, towards April, once the
playoffs start. But I’m not going to say that we don’t like what is going on
with our team now because I’d be lying to you but we definitely want to play
our best ball in late March going into April.
lost your first two games people were down on your team. Talk about how you
responded to that.
We lost our first two games and since
then we are 42-9 (laughs). I’ll take that.
lost your first two games do you think that a lot of people underestimated how
difficult it is to integrate so many new people into the team in different
Well, what happens sometimes in our
league and in sports in general is that people (think) that paper rosters are
automatically supposed to be on the floor. People look at the roster and say,
“This is who they’ve got, so this is what should happen” and automatically
crown someone as the champs because of who they’ve got (on the roster). It
takes time. You can’t rush chemistry. You can’t rush teamwork and things like
that. It took us a few weeks. It took us the whole training camp plus two or
three weeks of the regular season to finally get it going and we’ve had it ever
“Was part of
the issue getting the newer players used to how to play in Coach Mike Brown’s
Early in the season it was our
scoring. We got a lot of stops. The first game of the season we played Boston and we couldn’t
score. Second game we played Toronto in Toronto and we couldn’t
score. Defense is very easy to adjust to when you have new guys because at the
end of the day it is all about communication, talking, flying around and
helping each other. If you expect a guy to be in a certain place on the
offensive end and he’s not there then it can result in turnovers and things
like that. That’s all about chemistry, building that.
What would it
mean to you to win an NBA championship in your home state?
It would mean everything. It would
mean everything. I was able to do it three times in my high school career,
winning three state championships and winning a national championship my senior
year, so I’ve seen how the community grasps at the game at basketball. So at
the professional level you can (multiply) that by 100. It would mean a lot and
I’m doing whatever it takes. I work my tail off every single day to try to get
better and put ourselves in position to win an NBA championship.
Who would win
if you played Kobe
Bryant one on one?
I don’t know, man. I’m not a one on
one guy and I’ve never been a one on one guy. We are two unbelievable talents
who just try to do whatever is possible to help our respective teams win every
time on the court.
Who is your
favorite international player of all time?
Dirk Nowitzki is my favorite
His abilities are unbelievable. To be
7-1 and handle the ball the way as well as he does, to post up and to shoot the
ball as well as he can shoot the ball at that size—I love it. It’s effortless
to him, like Kevin Durant. These guys just score effortlessly, it seems like
they never sweat, they just go out there, play basketball and score 30. Those
guys I love.
media availability ended, James stopped to give his Team USA teammate Jason
Kidd a hug. James jokingly apologized to the Dallas
star for bringing the cold weather from Cleveland
to the Lone Star State
and James told Kidd, “I had to go to the mall to get a skully and thermals.” It
is a bit hard to picture James just visiting the mall to pick up winter clothes
during the middle of All-Star Weekend, so Kidd kind of gave James a funny look
and then James laughed and said, “Well, I sent someone to the mall.”
Labels: Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, NBA All-Star Weekend
posted by David Friedman @ 11:00 PM