What LeBron really meant in his first post-playoff interview

Back in the good ol’ days, athletes used to speak their mind when someone put a microphone in front of them. Players would get into trouble for the things they said, so as time goes on, they’ve become more and more careful about not offending anyone. Some guys even hire publicists to teach them how to interact with the media. This has led to virtually all player/reporter interactions to be completely sanitized of any possibly controversial material.

As a former college player, I’ve been interviewed by a few reporters in my day, and watching one of the best (Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan), I learned how to sound like I was saying something when I was actually saying nothing. I did it out of pure fear — I didn’t want Bo waking up the next day to see that his small forward had said something stupid or controversial to a reporter.

While listening to LeBron’s first post-playoff interview the other day [video], it occurred to me that he was talking a lot, but wasn’t actually saying much of anything. There were a lot of platitudes — he needed to get better over the summer, that he loves playing in Cleveland, etc. — but the interview was seemingly absent of honest opinion or revelation.

So here is LeBron’s transcribed interview, along with my translation of what he really said when he wasn’t saying anything…

Opening Statement: Congratulations to the Orlando Magic for an unbelievable, uh, series and, you know, they deserve it.

Translation: Athletes are supposed to say this kind of thing after a competition and even though I don’t wish Orlando any genuine congratulations, people say it’s good sportsmanship to do so, so there you go.

Opening Statement, cont’d: I don’t have much to say.

Translation: I don’t really want to talk to you right now, but I left last night’s game without doing any interviews, so I pretty much have to answer a few questions, or else I’ll look like a total a-hole. So let’s get this over with.

Question: How do you wrap your mind around it today, LeBron? I mean not much time has passed since then.

Answer: Um, I haven’t. I’m trying not to think about it. You know I just kinda want to move on with the situation, and you learn from situations like that. Um, you just try to get better.

Translation: We lost. It sucks. And I don’t really want to talk about it.

Question: Can you compare it to the pain of a year ago?

Answer: Well, you guys know me, you know. I’m just, you know, situation like that is never good for me, but I’ve always thrived in those situations. Um, you know, what happened in Boston, I got better from. You know, I carried that momentum into the Olympics and into this season, and I’m going to carry this same — bad being (?) I call it — you know, and try to get better this offseason and try to bring something better for next season.

Translation: Let me answer your question by not answering your question. I’m not going to compare how much this series loss sucks donkey balls when compared to last year’s crappy feeling. So I’ll just say that I’m the type of guy that’s going to get better from it and leave it at that.

Question: The Spurs year, when you guys lost in four, you said “You know what, they were just better than us. They swept us.” You tip your hat, you knew that. How do you come away from this series?

Answer: This series was very interesting. It could have been easily 4-2 Cavs or 4-0 Orlando. The series was so crazy that I think both teams played well enough to win the series. It’s just so bad that one team had to lose and it had to be us, so two very good teams.

Translation: I’ve convinced myself that this was a close series, and if anyone tells me otherwise I’m going to stick my fingers in my ears and say “la la la la la” over and over.

Question: Were you tired at all yesterday in that game? Were you exhausted? Did you use too much energy in the first five?

Answer: No, I don’t think so, man. This is the best I’ve felt in a postseason, this late in the season. Um, you know, I guess I spoil you sometimes, going out and doing what I do as an individual, that I’m not, you know, look like I’m tired when I’m not out there scoring 50 and 40 points a night.

Translation: If “tired” is scoring 25 points, snatching seven boards and dropping seven dimes in a Game 6 on the road, then yeah, I was tired. Most guys in the league would give their left nut to post that kind of a line and y’all think I’m tired. Suck it.

Question: In spite of not reaching your ultimate goal do you come away with something to feel good about from this season?

Answer: Of course, it’s not a disappointing season, um, you know, you set out a goal and you don’t achieve that goal, you know, it hurts. Of course it does, but what we did for this franchise, as a team, general manager, and you know, the coaching staff, all those guys — we had an unbelievable season, but, you know, we gotta work a little bit harder. You know, I make sure that I maintain focus, like I have the last few years, and then bring it to next year.

Translation: If you’re insinuating that this whole season was a complete waste because we didn’t win a championship, then no, I guess there isn’t anything good that I can take away from this season. I tend to think that a fantastic regular season and going 8-0 in the first two rounds of the playoffs is pretty good, but maybe I’m crazy. After all, no ring equals no success in media-speak, right?

Question: Are you as happy with everything this organization has done as you were two weeks ago?

Answer: I’m great. I’m great. I feel great about this situation, and what’s going on. You want to continue to get better. That’s all you can ask. We got better this season, and I feel that this team will be better next season, um, because every year teams are getting better, and you just don’t want to take a step backwards, and go backwards. We went forward from the Boston series into this year. Hopefully, we can go forward one more time next year.

Translation: I feel about as good as a guy can feel when he posts 38.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 7.3 assists, shoots 49% from the field and 75% from the free throw line, and his team still loses in six. How would you feel?

Question: The team is expected to offer you a contract extension this summer — will you sign it?

Answer: Um, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it just yet. You know, I’m just gonna take some time off from basketball and not think about contracts or the game, period. I’m just relaxing with my family and we’ll figure it out once [unintelligible].

Translation: Hell no! Are you crazy? If I sign that extension, then I won’t have any leverage to ensure that Dan Gilbert opens up his pocketbook and that Danny Ferry does everything he can to get me a legit supporting cast so that I don’t leave next summer. Why would I lock myself into a situation when I don’t have to? I’m open to re-signing, but there is work to be done.

Question: Fans always react when something happens, and now the question becomes, you know, does losing this series affect your thinking about playing here long term?

Answer: No, it doesn’t. I’ve always expressed the simple fact that I love playing here. The fans are great, and have always been great. Like I said before, since I was an 18 year-old kid, so losing this series doesn’t affect the way that I will continue to approach the game here in Cleveland.

Translation: Of course it does. Do you think it’s an accident that I’m wearing a Yankees cap for my first post-playoff interview? If we had gone to the Finals and won, then I’d stay. I might even stay if we had lost a tough series against the Lakers because, you know, Kobe has a much better supporting cast, and that would be enough to convince our owner and GM to add another big piece to put us over the top.

Question: After the Boston series last year, you said that you needed to get better. Obviously, you got better this year. Where do you personally and as a team go from here to get better?

Answer: Well, I’ll personally always try to expand my game, and just get better at every aspect of my game. Um, you know, I’ll definitely watch a lot of film and see what I can do better, and be a little bit more efficient, um, on the offensive end and on the defensive end. So, you know, I know that I will try to be a better player, you know, because I just want to be the best. So not too much concerned about myself, and I’m not too much concerned about my teammates either that’s gonna come back because they know how close and how important next year not to take a step backwards.

Translation: I might start thinking about developing my post game, but it’s pretty boring down there. Given my strength, finishing ability and vision, I’d be virtually uncoverable down on the block, but my coach seems to prefer that I get the ball at midcourt and go one on five.

Question: You know the game and the league as well as anybody, what does this team need [unintelligible]?

Answer: Um, I don’t know. I think, guys just gotta be more, um, work a little bit harder. I don’t want to sit here and sound like GM and say what we need, uh, because if we win the Orlando series and we win the Finals then there’s nothing that we do need. So I’m not going to sit here and make it sound like we need something, because we don’t. We just gotta dig a little bit deeper next time.

Translation: Hell yeah I know what we need, but I don’t want to sound like a prima donna and try to play GM through the press. We need a big guy that contain Dwight Howard in the post and we need another scorer on the perimeter, preferably a versatile player with some size. We also need an offensive playbook with more than two plays in it.

Question: When this season started, was this team geared to play Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals? Were you guys focused maybe too much on them and Orlando caught you by surprise?

Answer: Orlando is just a team that we haven’t been able to play well against. Out of all the teams in the Eastern Conference, you know, Orlando was probably our worst matchup, um, because we couldn’t match up with them. Like I said, two very good teams but Orlando had caused us the most problems out of any Eastern Conference team in the league. We never geared towards Boston. We gear towards whoever we’re going to play. Orlando is a very good team and a very bad matchup for us.

Translation: We can’t figure out the Magic and had we played anyone else in the Eastern Conference Finals, I’d have a big smile on my face right now.

Question: Have you talked to Dwight? I mean, you didn’t shake hands with anyone last night, but have you talked to him to congratulate him or no?

Answer: Um, no I haven’t. I sent him an email last night to congratulate him, but one thing about me, guys, that you gotta understand. It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them. I’m a winner, that’s not being a poor sport or anything like that, but somebody just beat you up, you’re not going to congratulate them on beating you up. That don’t make sense. That don’t make sense to me. I’m a competitor and that’s what I do. Don’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.

Translation: Even though the rest of the world considers shaking hands after a series to be good sportsmanship, I just can’t bring myself to do it because I’m used to winning and don’t like to lose. You see, I’m such a competitor that I hate losing so much that I can’t bring myself to shake my opponent’s hand. It’s not that I’m a poor sport, but when I don’t get my way, I just take my ball and go home. That’s not being a poor sport, is it?

Question: How close is this team to winning a title?

Answer: We’re close. We’ve still got room for improvement. Whenever you don’t win it, you’ve got room for improvement, so I’m gonna use this offseason to prepare myself for another long season next year, um, and you know, we’re gonna get better. We’re gonna be a better team.

Translation: Talk to me in a few months. Danny Ferry has some work to do.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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