The Heat's LeBron James talks about last year's NBA Finals, how this year's series reminds him of the 1991 NBA Finals and what he's learned from Hakeem Olajuwon.
Q: Indulge a couple of bad Finals memories here for a second. What do you remember about your feelings sitting there on that podium around this time last year after Game 6?
A: “Last year after Game 6, after losing, once again, I was very frustrated. I was very hurt that I let my teammates down, and I was very immature. Like I said, last year I played to prove people wrong instead of just playing my game, instead of just going out and having fun and playing a game that I grew up loving and why I fell in love with the game. So I was very immature last year after Game 6 towards you guys and towards everyone that was watching. One thing that I learned, and someone taught me this, the greatest teacher you can have in life is experience.”
So much talk about you and KD (Kevin Durant) kind of mano-a-mano, and most people are saying you've gotten the best of him so far. Do you see it that way?
“No. You know, I'm a historian of the game and I love the history of the game, so coming into this series, this reminded me of the '91 Finals of the Bulls and the Lakers. The whole world was so excited to finally see Michael Jordan versus Magic Johnson in The Finals. They didn't really care about the Lakers and the Bulls going against one another, it was all about Magic and Jordan. That's what it was about coming into this series. You know, everyone was excited to finally get an opportunity to see two of the best players go head to head, myself and KD, but for me personally, it's not a headtohead battle. When I go out on the floor, I do want to dominate the guy in front of me, but this is a team game, and I have all the trust in my teammates, and I try to do everything that needs to be done individually to help our team win.”
You talked about the things that you wanted to do better after last year, and one of the things you did was go to Houston. Have you heard from Hakeem (Olajuwon) recently about your progress in the post, and when you look back at what you did at that point, do you see it manifesting now?
James: “Yeah, I've talked to him three times since the postseason started. He asked me if I've been watching the film. He tells me to continue to do what I've been doing … staying in the post will get you easy buckets, and he also tells me to continue to have fun. That's the thing he noticed with me this year. He's seen me have a lot of fun, and I give a lot of thanks to him for allowing me to go down there and work with him for that week, and instill a part of my game that I felt like needed to be worked, and I was happy that I was able to go and join him and get work on it.”