It was media day on Monday for the Miami Heat and as such, the players went face-to-face with a zoo of media members. As part of the whirlwind media blitz, LeBron James caught up with Dan LeBatard's radio show in Miami and held court for about 20 minutes.
If you've watched LeBatard's interviews on his new TV show, you're aware that that he asks some candid questions to the athletes that join his program (here's one with Charles Barkley). His radio show isn't any different.
Some interesting stuff in that interview including equating Michael Jordan to Jesus, the post-Finals lowpoint, his treatment in Cleveland and what he'd do against J.J. Barea next season in the post. There's plenty more if you want to give the whole thing a listen but here are the juiciest parts:
If you could do the Finals series over again, what would you do differently?
I would do everything differently. I’d see if we could change the outcome. But you have to learn from those experiences and at the end of the day, you have to get better for the next opportunity.
Is it an oversimplification to say it was fun when you were winning and it wasn’t fun when you were losing?
You could say that to anyone who plays sports or do anything in life. It’s never fun when you’re losing. There’s always a lot of hostility when you’re losing and when you’re not winning. But at the end of the day, you always have to look at yourself in the mirror and look at everyone else in the mirror and try to figure out what can be done to get better. It’s easy to push things under the rug when you’re winning. But when you’re not winning, the true teams and the true character comes out and you get better learning from those situations.
Did you think it was going to be easier? We thought the entire season would be like that one play in Indiana.
I never thought it was going to be that easy. This game is all about team. I know how important and how long it takes for camaraderie and team chemistry to come around. I knew it was going to be very challenging. We had, I think, 11 new guys or more than 10 new guys on the team and a lot of those guys had to play significant minutes and we didn’t know each other at all. It took us a while, we reached our goal, but we didn’t come all the way through with it. We wanted to win the Finals and fell a little short.
Did you think it would be more fun?
Absolutely. For me, my whole life I’ve had a lot of fun playing the game of basketball and personally, I kind of got away from that last year. I defeintely lost that aspect of it in my first year in Miami, but I’m back to myself and I’m looking forward to having it.
The first couple weeks after the Finals, what was it like to be LeBron?
You definitely didn’t want to be around me the first couple weeks after the Finals. I sheltered myself from everybody. It gave me time to sit back and think about ways I can become a better person, ways I can become a better man and a better basketball player. I was devastated. I’ve had a few low points in my life and that was definitely one of them.
How did you sleep?
I didn’t (laughs).
For how long?
It took me a two or three weeks until I finally started to relax and start to move on a little bit.
Are you ashamed of anything that happened?
I’m not shameful about anything in life. I was put in this position for a reason. I was put in this league to start. That’s when I realized, when I came up out of my situation … I was like, Wow, I’m a kid from Akron and I wasn’t even supposed to make it this far and become a statistic and the fact that I’m here ... I forgot about all that. Once I realized that, I didn’t take the game for granted. It allowed me to get back to myself.
Did you leave the house?
I didn’t leave the house for about two weeks. I wasn’t taking many calls, except for the few loved ones that I have. But I didn’t do much of anything.
What do you view as the fairest and unfairest criticism about you last year?
I don’t know about the criticism, man. I’ve moved on from it. I just try to become a better person and a better teammate this year. I’m trying not to dwell on what happened last year, the whole departure from Cleveland and everything that came along with it. I’m at a place right now where I’m very comfortable.
Why is Mario Chalmers the only guy you and Dwyane always yell on?
We see a lot of potential in Mario, man. He does a lot of good things for us, but we see a lot of potential. It’s just constructive cricitism. We know Mario is able to get over it and not take it too hard. He can brush it off but listen to it at the same time. There are certain ways to talk to certain people, but Mario is one of those guys you can rag on and he’s still able to perform at a high level.
Who comes after you the hardest on the team?
D-Wade, Mario, UD, Eddie House of course. Of course. Eddie House goes at everybody. You don’t even have to be on the team for him to go at you.
What’s the one perk that LeBron James tells his boys, “Look, this is pretty cool here”?
I got so many great partnerships – Nike, Coca Cola, McDonald’s. The fact that growing up, I didn’t always have the opportunity to have a lot of shoes. It was like one shoe before school and maybe another pair for Christmas. And that was it. Having the partnership with Nike, I can just get any shoe that I want, anytime that I want it, I just load my house up with shoes. That’s a really cool perk, man. I was a kid that wanted everything and unfortunately I couldn’t have it, because some of the circumstances. Now today, I want to get rid of a lot of it because it’s clogging up my closet (laughs).
What is the thing that is in LeBron’s house that you would show to impress a stranger?
I’d probably show off the cop car that’s in front of my house. Just let him know he don’t try to do anything frisky or he’ll go to jail (laughs).
What’s the worst moment last year with a Cleveland fan?
Probably just returning back there on Dec. 2, that game we had. It was unpleasant for all of us, especially for me. It was my first return back there. They gave me what I wanted me to hear. Luckily, we played great as a team and win that game so it was fun.
Give us a moment when LeBron James was awed to be in the presence of others.
I always go back to this: my junior year in high school when I got an opportunity to go up to Chicago and play at a gym called Hoops. If anybody knows basketball, they know that Hoops is the gym where Michael Jordan worked out and trained in the offseason. I had no idea that this day I was going to be there that he was going to show up. A lot of the people said he wasn’t going to be in town. I was siting in the weightroom, talking with a few NBA guys about the game, and here comes Michael Jordan, walking in there and it was like Jesus walking on water again for myself. Because I’ve always looked up to the guy and everything I did as a basketball player, I tried to resemble him. That was that moment right there where I was like, ‘Man, am I living right now? Please don’t pinch me.’
What about a celebrity moment like that?
First time I met Jay-Z. Today, he’s like a big brother of mine and a mentor of mine. But the first time I met him, it was unbelievable. It was also in Chicago as well. Chicago has been a great place for me so far. To meet him, to listen him growing up and to know him as a brother now has been a blessing for me.
How much work have you been working on the post game?
A little over four months. I spent a lot in the summer time on just working on that part of the game, and improveing that part of my game more than anything else. Looking forward to turning those offseason workouts into a game situation.
So if J.J. Barea is on your hip, you’re going to be able to get him off your hip?
Yeah, for the most part. I will be able to do that (laughs).
What are you expecting from Eddy Curry?
For us, we’re not expecting anything from him right now. We’re happy that he’s happy again. He’s been through a lot of tough situations the last few years and been away from the game for about three years. Just to see the smile on his face and interact with him and just to see him be out on the court again, which we know he loved and he lost that the last few years. I told him we expect nothing from you just to show up everyday, just try to work hard at practice. You don’t worry about statistics or worry about rebounds or anything right now and the game will get back to you.