Alan Goldsher is Collectable’s Head of Content.
Visit him at http://www.AlanGoldsher.com
On childhood, part one
“I grew up on the north side of Akron, [Ohio], [and we] lived in the projects.
So those scared and lonely nights…that’s every night. You hear a lot of police sirens, you hear a lot of gunfire, things that you don’t want your kids to hear growing up. When you’re there and you know your mother’s not home, you never know if those police sirens are for her, or if those gunshots were intended [for] her. Almost every night, [I] would stand up hearing those sounds and hoping and wishing that it wasn’t [my mother] on the other end. Every day that you woke up, you knew it was going to be a struggle. For me, already being part of a single parent household and knowing it was just me and my mom, [I] would wake up [at] times and hope that the next day, [I was] able to be alongside [my] mother because she was out trying to make sure that I was taken care of. All I cared about was her being home.”
What advice would 33-year-old LeBron give 18-year-old LeBron?
“Every experience that you have is the best teacher in life.
You could read books, you could have great parents, you could have great mentors, but in order for you to be able to tackle something, you have to go through things. There [have] been bumps, there [have] been bruises, there’s been good, there’s been bad, there [have] been obstacles, but I’ve learned how to deal with them because I experienced them.”
On the 2003 NBA Draft class
“We are not the best, [but] we are right up there.
You know, you obviously got the ’96 draft, [and] you got the ’84 draft that [are] right up there. So for us to even be mentioned as one of the greatest drafts that the NBA has ever seen is an honor.”
On his rookie season with Cleveland
“I just bring the determination to win.
Me being an unselfish player, I think that can carry on to my teammates. When you have one of the best players on the court being unselfish, I think that transfers to the other players. That’s what I think I can bring to the Cavs. I hear that word pressure all the time. There is a lot of pressure put on me, but I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself. I feel if I play my game, it will take care of itself. Glamour and all that stuff don’t excite me. I am just glad I have the game of basketball in my life.”
On his ability to see the court
“Once I get comfortable with my surroundings out there, it seems like everything just slows down.
I don’t want to sound cocky when I say this, but it’s like I see things before they happen. I kind of know where the defenders are gonna be. I kind of know where my teammates are gonna be, sometimes even before they know. If I’m on the court and I throw a pass, the ball that I’ve thrown will lead my teammate right where he needs to go, before he even knows that that’s the right place to go to. I just slow things down to a point where I can control what happens. It’s a God-given talent.”
“I think [about] the game more than I really play it.
I mean, I can play the game pretty good, too. But I really think [I] approach the game mentally more than physically, and [that means] watching film. That’s knowing your opponent’s likes and dislikes, his pros and cons, what he likes to do, what he don’t like to do. I feel like skill-wise, I’m going to be okay. [But] who’s going to out-think the game more than the man in front of him?”
On playing for his hometown team
“Once I get comfortable with my surroundings out there, it seems like everything just slows down.
but one little slip and then fans start remembering what they’ve been going through for so long. I’m not getting mad that they boo the team or boo me, because they’ve gone through so much, but at the same instance they have to understand that we’re out here playing hard and we’re trying to turn this thing around too. We’re all in it.”
On not playing for his hometown team
“This fall—and this was a very tough decision for me,
but this fall, I will be taking my talents to South Beach and joining the Miami Heat. I feel like this is going to give me the best opportunity to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season. Or just to win five games in a row, or three games in a row. I want to be able to win championships, and I feel like I can compete down there. I can’t say it was always in my plans, because I never thought it was possible. The seven years I gave to [the Cavaliers] and to [Cleveland] was everything. [The fans] saw me grow from an 18-year-old kid to a 25-year-old man. My heart will always be around that area.”
On the reaction to “The Decision”
“All the people were rooting on me to fail,
[but] at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. But they have to get back to the real world at some point.”
“Warren [Buffet] is definitely a great guy.
The best thing he taught me was just to follow my gut. Whatever decision you make it’s almost always best to go with your initial instinct because 99% of the time that’s the right choice. You don’t want to think too much about whether or not you’re making the right decision because it can affect the clarity of your thinking.”
“You can’t be afraid to fail.
It’s the only way you succeed. You’re not gonna succeed all the time, and I know that. You have to be able to accept failure to get better.”
On the Miami Heat’s NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks:
“It hurts, of course,
[but] I’m not going to hang my head low. I know how much work as a team we put into it. I know how much work individually that I’ve put into it. That’s something people don’t see. I think you can never hang your head low when you know how much work, how much dedication you put into the game of basketball when the lights are off and the cameras are not on.”
On the Miami Heat’s NBA Finals victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Part 1
“It’s about damn time.”
On the Miami Heat’s NBA Finals victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Part 2
“Getting that first championship for me was like having my first son.
It was just a proud moment, something that you never, ever forget. And at the end of the day, no matter what anybody says from now on in your career or whatever they say, they can never take away from you being a champion. That’s something that they are always going to speak about you. It may be like the last thing they may say, but they are always going to have to say that you’re a champion. When you put in the work and things pay off, then you can always be okay with whatever else that happens in your career.”
On his future with the Miami Heat
“At this point, I can’t [picture myself with another team].
What I’ve been able to do this whole season to this point is just worry about what’s at hand and that’s winning another championship. And hopefully at the end of this year I can put myself in a position where I can hold that Larry O’Brien Trophy up once again, and then I will assess what I have to do with my future after that.”
“One of my first goals is to continue to inspire the youth
to want to play this game of basketball or to be better at whatever they do, [to] nspire millions to [realize that] no matter what they’ve gone through in their lives at that point in time, they can always overcome it. That’s the first thing. Second thing for me is to continue to lead my teammates. Every single day in practice, every single day in film sessions, I know the grass isn’t always green and there’s going to be trials and tribulations. But hopefully I can continue to be the leader for my teammates. And then lastly, I want to be, if not the greatest, one of the greatest to ever play this game. And I will continue to work for that, and continue to put on this uniform and be the best I can be every night.”
On his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers
“When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission.
I was seeking championships, and we won two [with the Heat]. But Miami already knew that feeling. [Cleveland] hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio. I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”
On the diet that led to a 25-pound weight loss
“I'm in the 250-ish range,
a lot lighter than I’ve been playing at the last few years, but I feel good. I’ll tell you what I couldn’t have: No carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no refined sugar. No nothing, [just] meat, fish, veggies, fruit. I had the cookie monster chasing me a few times in my dreams.”
On Cleveland’s NBA Finals loss to Golden State
“I always look at it [like] would I rather not make the playoffs
or lose in The Finals? I don’t know. I’ve missed the playoffs twice. I lost in The Finals four times. I’m almost starting to be like I’d rather not even make the playoffs than to lose in The Finals. It would hurt a lot [less] if I just didn’t make the playoffs and I didn’t have a shot at it. But then I look back in, and I start thinking about how [much] fun it is to compete during the playoffs and the first round, the second round, and Eastern Conference Finals. If I’m lucky enough to get here again, it will be fun to do it.”
On winning a championship with the Cavaliers
“Cleveland, this one’s for you!”
On race, part one
“No matter how big you can become,
no matter how successful you are, no matter what you do in the community. No matter what you do in your profession, being African-American in America is always tough. They always going to let you know that you are the n-word, no matter who you are, no matter how successful you could become. When you’re an African-American kid man or female, you’re always going against obstacles.”
On race, part two
“We all feel helpless and frustrated by the violence.
We do. But that’s not acceptable. It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change.”
“I think it's always just important to give back to the youth.
You guys are our future. You guys have beautiful minds, spirit. Energy is always high. I was a young kid growing up in the inner city with not many resources, [but] not much help. So for me to be able to be in the position I am today to be able to give back, not only to my hometown, but go all over the world and inspire people and inspire kids and inspire the youth, I think it’s just as important as what I do on the basketball floor.
On Michael Jordan
“I wear the number  because of Mike.
I think I fell in love with the game because of Mike, just seeing what he was able to accomplish. When you’re growing up and you’re seeing Michael Jordan, it’s almost like [seeing] a god, so I didn’t ever believe I could be Mike. So I started to focus myself on other players and other people around my neighborhood, because I never thought you could get to a point where Mike was. I think that helped shape my game. And I think the biggest thing for me, sitting here today after breaking the all-time scoring record in playoff history, is that I did it just being me. I don’t have to score the ball to make an impact in the basketball game, and that was my mindset when I started playing the game. And it’s carried me all the way to this point now, and it’s going to carry me for the rest of my career.”
On joining the Los Angeles Lakers
“The Lakers organization matches up there with all the greats.
You can look at the Cowboys, and you can look at the Patriots, you can look at Manchester United, the Boston Celtics—these are historical franchises, and for me to be a part of that, I think it’s a great moment for not only me, but for my family and for the history of basketball.”
On the late Kobe Bryant
“He's one of the greatest basketball players,
one of the most impactful players, and the inspiration that he has, it’s showing. [Look] how many people not only in the basketball world, but also outside the basketball world, [were] touched by a person such as himself. Obviously, we all saw what he was able to do on the floor as a competitor, as a champion, [as] someone who strived for excellence every single day, but we also saw the father he was as well to his beautiful daughters. We know that he’s watching over us. It’s our responsibility to just represent the purple and gold not only for him, but for all the greats, everybody that’s ever come through the Lake Show. I really don’t want to sit up here and talk about it too much. It’s a very, very sensitive subject, but he’s with us every day.”
Advice for young NBA players
“Try to be better than I am.
Use what I do. You could use my platform, use my words. You can use the inspiration that I try to give. But any way you can be great at doing what you love to do, you got to commit to it. You can’t want something but not put in the work. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in life, no matter what it is. It could be a professional athlete. It could be an artist. It could be a doctor. Anything in the world. A president of the United States. You’ve got to put the work in, and I think if you put the work in, the results will happen organically. And most important, you’ve got to find happiness too. If you’re having fun, enjoying what you’re doing, then it makes it so much easier. It makes it so much easier to want to do it every day because it’s something that you really enjoy doing and you don’t look at it as work.”
From his commencement speech to high school seniors
“There is no doubt in my mind
that the class of 2020 is going to be something really special. After all this, you guys are prepared for anything. So celebrate. Be proud. We are all ready for the class of 2020 to change the world. It is time to chase every dream, accept every challenge, strive for greatness, honor every promise, and recommit to your community—they need you. Pursue every ambition, go as far as you possibly can dream, and be the first generation to embrace a new responsibility, a responsibility to rebuild your community. Class of 2020, the world has changed. You will determine how we rebuild, and I ask that you make your community your priority. Congratulations, class of 2020. I love all of you, and remember one thing: you’re all kings and queens.”