LeBron James Interview
On the final night of the 2003-04 NBA regular season, the Cleveland Cavaliers visited the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. Before the game, LeBron James spoke with the media about his season. InsideHoops.com presents the full transcript.
Question: Does it feel like a long season, or did it go by fast?
LeBron James: It's been a very long season. The longest season I've ever been a part of.
Question: Are you tired?
LeBron James: Naw, I can never get tired of playing basketball. You can get tired of all the traveling, from city to city, but on the basketball side, you never get tired of it.
Question: Did the NBA turn out to be everything you hoped it would?
LeBron James: It's everything and more. I'm happy I'm a part of the National Basketball Association, and I'm going to be here for a while.
Question: Do you regret not going to college at all, in any way?
LeBron James: No, I never regret my decision. I never even thought about playing for any of those college teams, because I'm doing fine where I'm at.
Question: What's on your mind for this summer?
LeBron James: Rest is the only thing on my mind right now. There's been a lot thrown on me, and I'm not even talking about the basketball side. Everything was thrown at me this year, so I'm looking to get a lot of rest. Basketball after tonight will not be a part of my life for a little bit.
Question: How much will not making the playoffs this year motivate you for next year?
LeBron James: It motivates me a lot. We was right there, but we lost a big piece of our puzzle when we was going through a great stretch in the season, but I think our team know that we should be a part of the playoffs this year, even though we're not, but that's something that's going to motivate us for next year.
Question: What was the toughest thing for you to learn to do?
LeBron James: Basically, mentally staying focused, it's a long season, you have your ups and downs, but you have to go out and play every night, no matter where you are. I think just the traveling, getting to cities at three-o'clock at night, then you have to wake up the next morning, it's tough.
Question: People asking for autographs, pushing and shoving, is that tiring?
LeBron James: No, that's easy. I've been going through that since my freshman year of high school.
Question: Fake high school jerseys have come out, of yours and other players, have you seen those jerseys?
LeBron James: I have no control over that. I have seen them, but that's something I can't control. I wear authentic every night I go on the court, so I try to stay away from the bootleg side.
Question: Your career will surely have an impact on young kids coming out early into the draft. Do you feel like you, Amare Stoudemire and the rest have broken a barrier?
LeBron James: We pretty much set a high standard for any high school kid to come out, from now point on. Teams is looking for instant impact. They want things now. You gotta just come out and work hard. You can't stop working when you get to the league. You got to work even harder, and you got to go back to the lowest point when you enter the NBA and just work hard at it.
Question: Do you expect Cavaliers management to consult you on moves they make this summer?
LeBron James: I would hope so. I think I'm a big piece of this puzzle. I don't think I'm going to be going anywhere anytime soon, so I'm going to be here a long time and I'm going to need the right type of players on our squad to get to where we want to be, and I hope I'll be part of that.
Question: How important is it to you to win the rookie of the year award?
LeBron James: It'll be a wonderful thing for me, that was one of my goals, just to come out and compete. I knew I could help my team win games, I knew I could go out and just give my all, all 82 games. I missed three games because of an ankle injury, but I know every time I was on the court I could make an impact, but, it would be very exciting if I won that award.
Question: What does this team need to take things to the next level?
LeBron James: Just keep adding experience. I think we got enough young guys, and once we added experience this year we was able to get better. I think in the off-season I think we're going to have to find someone that can stretch the defense. I think we're second to last or last team in the league at three-point shooting. With my dribble-penetration and Z (Zydrunas Ilgauskas) and Booze (Carlos Boozer) clogging the middle, we're going to need someone that can stretch the defense, meaning a three-point shooter.
Question: What parts of your game need improvement?
LeBron James: Everything. Offensively, defensively, mentally, mentally I'm going to have to think that game out more, because people are basically going to find how to I score buckets, so I'm going to have to add more to my game every year, and that's every aspect of my game, not just driving or shooting. I think every aspect of my game needs to get better.
Question: Did any high school player this year really catch your eye?
LeBron James: I didn't really get a chance to watch too many high school players this year, because I was going through this season, I was mentally trying to stay focused, but that's something... I'm going to do a little scouting, though. I'll become a coach after this season, I guess we're going to be in the lottery from not making the playoffs, so I need to see who we can draft and make an impact for us.
Question: Obviously you're happy with your season, but when talking to your friends, is there anything you think you missed by not going to college?
LeBron James: (Laughs) Naw, I think the journey I've been on these past six or seven months has been everything I expected. I'm just happy to be here. I never think about the opportunity of going to college. My college days was in high school.
Question: What do you think of the 14 year-old soccer player, Freddy Adu, going pro at his age?
LeBron James: It's exciting. I'm happy for Freddy Adu, once again he's a Nike person, so I'm very happy that we was able to capture him, so I'm just happy for him and his family, I think he's capable of playing that game, at his age, and he's going to do well. I'm happy for him.
Question: Talk about NBA All-Star weekend.
LeBron James: It was a great experience, just to be a part of all-star festivities, going to watch the thing on Saturday, the whole Slam Dunk, and then being a part of it on Friday, prime time, it's just exciting. And just to be with my good friend Carmelo (Anthony) was just fun.
Question: What makes you good as a spokesperson?
LeBron James: Because I got a great smile.