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LeBron James Interview

 


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| Apr. 5, 2006

LeBron JamesLed by superstar LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers recently clinched a playoff spot. It'll be King James' first postseason. LeBron is going crazy lately. With averages of 31.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists, he's putting numbers up there with the greatest of the greats. InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner and a stack of other reporters met with James before a Cavs-Knicks game in Madison Square garden for an interview. Only on InsideHoops.com will you see the whole thing.

Question: What do you have to do to get ready for the playoffs?

LeBron James: Keep doing the things we've been doing. No reason to change now, nine game winning streak, we don't need to start changing now. So, just keep doing what we've been doing lately, and try to keep winning ballgames.

Question: How much of qualifying for the playoffs this year has to do with your maturity? Do you feel you're a much different person than you were two years ago?

LeBron James: It has a lot to do with it. I felt if I got better as an individual it would help our team. And then the organization did a great job of going and getting the right pieces for our team to come together, and it's showing.

Question: How much will making the playoffs factor into your staying in Cleveland with the Cavs in the future?

LeBron James: It makes a difference, of course -- winning. No matter where you are, you win ball games, you're doing anything and you're winning, being successful you're going to pretty much take into consideration to stay.

Question: And now you have Larry Hughes back.

LeBron James: I'm very excited about what's going on right now. We have all our soldiers back. [Zydrunas Ilgauskas' injury] is not serious at all. So we got all our soldiers back and we're ready to show the world what we're truly about now.

Question: You've been the leading player here with the Cavs from the start, but have you grown into the leadership role?

LeBron James: Yeah. I've always tried to be a leader on this team. But you have to win games also. You have to showcase your talent on the court and do a great job of being that person on and off the court. This has been a great year for us, but it's not done yet.

Question: When you come to Madison Square Garden, is it still a magical place for you?

LeBron James: Yeah, always. This is the mecca of basketball. You always have to remember that. You come here, you don't want to get overwhelmed with the situation. You just want to come in here and try to get a win, and try to get out.

Question: Talk about the appetite for basketball and basketball players in China, from your time there.

LeBron James: I spent a lot of time there this past summer. It was an excellent experience. I was very happy to be a part of that and try to inspire kids to play the game of basketball, and it was very exciting... It was awesome.

Question: Talk about Anderson Varejao stepping in and stepping up with Ilgauskas out.

LeBron James: Anderson's going to always play well for us, because he brings one thing that a lot of other players don't bring, and that's energy. I know I'm going to get that out of him every night; the team knows that, so he's going to do a great job filling in for Z.

Question: Have you paid attention to what's going on with the Knicks? And can you emphasize?

LeBron James: Naw, I can't. I got my own team to worry about. Can't worry about another team in this league. They're not as successful as they thought they wanted to be. As far as paying attention to what's going on, the ins and outs, no.

Question: What's different about the Cavs' finish this year, compared to last year when you guys had a shot but it didn't happen?

LeBron James: For one, we got great pieces this year. We got guys we can go to down the stretch besides myself. For two, it's another year of experience for myself, for Z, for Eric [Snow]. And, what we went through last year... we didn't want to go through that this year again. So, just another year of experience.

Question: Is making the playoffs a big chip off your shoulder?

LeBron James: No. I'm very excited that we were able to make the playoffs. But that was our goal from day one. We picked up those guys from free agency and re-signed Z. We always believed that we would make the playoffs. And, it's happened.

Question: Most guys your age are playing in the NCAA, not the NBA. How much have you grown as a basketball player over the last few years?

LeBron James: A lot. I think my maturity level has grown a lot, and that has really helped me. I think my game has been pretty good, to survive in this league. But I think to mature as a player and as a person, I think it helps you a lot more.

Question: A lot of people are saying, why isn't LeBron James the league MVP. What do you say to that?

LeBron James: Well, I never worry about individual accolades. Never have, never will. I feel like the individual awards will come with the team's success. And they recognize that, the people voting for the MVP race, they'll probably realize who the MVP of the league is.

Question: You've made it the playoffs. What do you anticipate that next level being like?

LeBron James: It's going to be a whole different season. I've never experienced it, but the guys in this locker room have. We've played games this year and they've said to me, this was a playoff-intensity game. So we have some games in the regular season that feel like playoff-intensity games... so we'll be ready for it and I'll be ready for it, too.

Question: Did you like the way you were treated in China?

LeBron James: I was very embraced. Guys love me. I probably was the second most loved person over there, besides Yao Ming.

Question: Is that the best thing a company can do right now over there, align themselves with a popular basketball player to sell things over there?

LeBron James: I'm not sure. I'm a popular person. I'm not just a popular basketball player. I'd still be famous if I wasn't playing basketball.

Question: Do you have to guard against doing anything different once you get to the playoffs?

LeBron James: It's still basketball. You go out and play basketball. It's the post-season, but all in all, at the end of the day you still have to put the ball in the hoop, still got to play defense and execute. So, the intensity level changes, but the final score doesn't change, me putting the ball in the hoop or us guys executing doesn't change.

Question: [Luke Jackson screaming from nearby] When can we expect to see Luke Jackson back?

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