I managed to catch up with LeBron James in the visitor’s locker room before tonight’s Wizards-Heat game. He had plenty to say, on topics ranging from the Orlando Magic, to Justin Bieber, and even Yao Ming.
His most interesting answer was just one word — two letters. When asked if winning games will ultimately change people’s perceptions of both LeBron and the Miami Heat, LeBron responded:
Well, I guess not everybody loves a winner. What can he do? What should he do?
Here are more sound bites from the King himself….
On Orlando’s roster shuffle:
“I’ve thought that it was surprising when Turk (Hedo Turkoglu) wasn’t brought back the year after they beat us [Cleveland Cavaliers]. I just thought what Turk created for their team, that point-four created everything. He always created a mismatch and that was part of the reason why they beat us. There were times I would switch off onto Turk and they would go to Rashard (Lewis). Sometimes I would go on Rashard and they would go to Turk. We were too small on the perimeter during those years … I know they’re happy to have him back. It’s gonna be different, it’s going to be a different transition because I know when you break up a team and bring guys in it takes a while. We’ll see what happens.”
“They’re a much different team. It’s going to be a much different team when we see them the next time . Especially for me, having gone through a playoff series with them, going through regular season games with them will be different. But, I guess they felt they needed a change.”
“I don’t know. It’s still early. I’d love to sees them play first before I make an assessment on their team. I never like to judge a book by it’s cover first.”
“It’s going to take time [for Orlando to find its form] — any time you add new guys. They added a lot, so it’s going to take time for them to come together. They’ll be able to do it, but it will take some time. It won’t be easy early.”
On the Heat’s newfound success and their chances in the playoffs, considering that Orlando will go through an adjustment period:
“I feel better about our team the way we’re playing now. Didn’t matter [what Orlando did] before last night and now that I know they’ve made this deal, today. The way were playing basketball right now, we can beat any team in this league. We have to continue to get healthy and continue to play at a high level, and I put our chances up against anybody the way were playing.”
On Gilbert Arenas and getting booed on the road:
“Just a few years back, he was an MVP candidate. Injuries and off-the-court issues have plagued his career the last few years. Do we know if he’s going to get back to an MVP-type feel? We don’t, but he’s a great player and we had some great battles, definitely. Me in a Cavs uniform and him in a Wizards uniform. [Laughs] All those moments we had against The Wizards in those playoff series — Classic.”
“We felt that as a team, even though when we walked down the court [at the Q] and heard the shower of boos, and everything that came with that game, we didn’t let that stop us from doing what our task was: To win a basketball game and try to dominate the whole game from start to finish.
“We love being home. We call ourselves road warriors. We love being on the road and feeling the negativity of a building, when we go into a building we feel like it’s us against everybody. It’s helped us play some good basketball on the road.”
“Every city I go into, I get booed. It won’t be nothing different tonight. The playoff series I had with Washington, tonight wont be worse than those.”
On Bieber Fever:
“I’ve met him a few times. Cool kid, man.”
On the league’s great point guards:
“It’s probably the best group we have seen in a long time, if not ever. As far as the group, there’s some huge variety of point guards: Chris Paul, D-Will (Deron Williams), (Rajon) Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose … I hate to leave guys out. Steve Nash and Tony Parker are still doing great things. Every night, there is really no night off for a point guard in this league. If you’re a point guard, you have to suit it up. We have some great ones.”
“I’ve been watching John Wall since he was a freshman in high school. I’ve kinda been mentoring him ever since high school and his one year in Kentucky. And now, in the league. You talk about point guard variety in this league, and he will be in that mix very soon. He’s gonna get healthy. He’s young, he’s gonna get healthy. He has a lot of time, but Washington got a great point guard. He’s a great kid and his speed and athleticism is something that only few point guards in this league have, à la Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. He’s good, he’s really good and he’s going to continue to get better. I met him personally after his sophomore or junior year [of high school]. He came to my basketball camp. He was the best player there, even as an underclassman.”
On missing an opportunity to play in front of Barack Obama:
“It would have been great. I had an opportunity to go to one of his events this summer and play on the same court as him, but to have him actually see what I do live, it would have been great. But, he’s a busy man.”
On the Los Angeles Lakers:
“If you know basketball and watch basketball, the Lakers can never be quiet. They’re two-time defending champions. They’re 20-7 right now, they’re playing some good basketball, but they can never be quiet. [...] It’s too early [to say they can't win title this year]. It’s an 82 game regular season, lots of games left to be played. A week can change a whole season. Two weeks can change a whole season — look at us two weeks ago!”
On Yao Ming’s brittle bones:
“I think it’s horrible. When you have a great talent, a great teammate like that … I think it’s horrible any time the game is taken away from someone. I’m not saying his career is over, but I have a teammate who went through multiple foot injuries, surgeries in Z (Ilgauskas). He was able to come back and have some of his best years after he came back from his injury. Z had his last operation when he was 25, I know Yao is 30, but there’s still a chance he can play. We’ll see. Same with Greg Oden. We don’t want those things to happen, especially to those people who love the game so much, that that’s all you ever thought and dreamed about was playing this game at a high level.”