LeBron James quotes after Cavs-Magic Game 2
Friday in Cleveland the Cavaliers beat the Orlando Magic 96-95 in Game 2 of the 2009 NBA playoffs Eastern Conference Finals matchup. The series is now tied at one game apiece. Though he had ball-control problems today, racking up more turnovers (6) than assists (5), Cavs superstar LeBron James shot 12-of-23 for 35 points, including a game-winning three-pointer over Hedo Turkoglu to win it at the buzzer. Here's what LeBron said to reporters after the game:
Question: LeBron, could you take us through not so much the shot but the moment after the shot. The MVP chants, your fans adoring you, is that something that you will soon forget?
LeBron James: Wow. I mean, the reaction from the fans and the teammates, the loudest it has ever been in this building was the first time I made the playoffs in my third year and we faced Washington and we ran out on the court on that game, the towels was out and it was unbelievable. I had lost my wind as soon as I ran out on the court.
Tonight surpassed that by ten times. I mean, it was unbelievable. I mean, you couldn't -- I mean, you couldn't hear anything but just a roar of those 20,000-plus fans. And they deserve it. They deserve it.
Question: I heard you say the other night for the Magic to go for a dagger. Was it perhaps giving the Magic a taste of their own medicine, and was that perhaps your greatest highlight of all time?
James: The first option was for me to fake up and go for the lob. Two things happened. We had Rashard Lewis on Mo, so it was going to be a difficult pass. When I went to go for the lob, Hedo had never been on it. I told Mo, whatever -- whatever it was going to take for me I was going to come get the ball, no matter what happened. If the first, third, second, if all options run, I'm going to come get the ball and I'm going to knock down the shot. It is the biggest shot I have made in my career.
Question: Turkoglu said that the way that you were celebrating and the Cavs and the bench was good. He says that means that Orlando is in your head now. Don't you think it is quite the opposite?
James: Orlando is not in our head at all.
Question: Right. You can use this as a momentum booster.
James: We respect that team a lot.
This is a very good team we are playing. These are the four best teams in the game right now, you know, and they are battling. We are battling. We are going up big and they are making runs. It is going to happen.
They are not in our head at all. We don't look at it as that. It is just two really good teams just going at it and having a pretty good series so far.
Question: Did everything slow down? How long was that second?
James: I just took my time. I just took my time. For me, a second is a long time for me. You know, for others it is very short. I mean, those are -- as a kid, you practice those types of moments, as a kid. As a basketball player, you are sitting in your backyard, you are in the gym and you are five, four, three, two, one (buzzer sound). Those are the moments that as kids -- you don't have to be in the NBA to know what I'm talking about. Everybody knows those types of moments.
And to hit a shot like that at the buzzer at home, wow.
Question: You grew up in this area, so you know in the past the shot has meant something very different.
James: Well, that guy is not in the League anymore. The other 2three is now on the good side now. That other 2three is gone, so we don't have to worry about that no more. (Smiling).
Question: LeBron, since there was only one second left and there really wasn't time to get the ball back to the inbounder, are you surprised they didn't defend you with two guys the whole time?
James: No. For one, I think they seen that set before. We ran it one time earlier in the season in Indiana right before the All-Star break, and I was able to get a foul on Danny Granger. Rashard Lewis played it perfect. He stood tall, got in Mo's way and dropped it.
If you watch the replay, Rashard Lewis even got a contest on the shot when I got up, but just a little bit too late. I mean, they played it perfect. It is just a good shot. It is a good shot. (Smiling).
The same way we guard Rashard, when Rashard hit that three, we guarded it perfect. Good players or great players just make good shots, man.
Question: A couple years later, people still talk about the 25 in the fourth quarter at Detroit. How does this compare to that? Would you put one ahead of the other?
James: I wouldn't say put one ahead of the other. That was a great performance also from us as a team, from me as an individual.
Tonight was another good performance by me as an individual and us as a team. That's a shot that you will see for a long time, you know? You watch classic games and you see Jordan hit game winners and you go all the way back, Jerry West hitting game winners, and Mattie Johnson going across the lane and hitting the jump hook against Boston. You see all these type of shots, man, always be played even when the game has left you as an individual.
Hopefully I can stick my foot in that category with Magic and Jerry West and Jordan and all these other guys that made spectacular plays on the biggest stage in the world.
Question: LeBron, you just talked about Jerry West and Magic and what have you. You're a self-aware athlete. You recognize that you're building a legacy. Have you already or will you at some point take stock of that shot in terms of what it does for, you know, your career?
James: It's something I will probably do after I'm done playing the game of basketball, man. I don't take time to look at what I do as an individual while I'm still playing this team game.
When I'm done and retired and I'm gone away from the game, I'm by myself, my family, my kids, I can look back on what I did as an individual. As long as I have 14 teammates, I will never look upon what I do as an individual. That's not how I approach the game.