Q. LeBron, given your performances late in games in these Finals, what’s your assessment of your ability to play well under pressure?
LeBRON JAMES: I mean, sometimes you got it, sometimes you don’t. And that was this case in this series. I was able to do things in the last two series to help us win ballgames. Wasn’t able to do that in this series. Once you get to the playoffs, every game is pressure. You want to win. You have to win. And I mean, we’ve seen some of that in the Chicago series, we seen some of that in the Boston series. Even though we lost Game 4, we lost Game 4 in Philly, there’s pressure in that series as well.
So it doesn’t matter which round it is. Once you get to the postseason, every possession counts.
Q. LeBron, what in this Finals round were you personally unable to do that you wanted to do?
LeBRON JAMES: Live in the paint. They did a great job of every time I drove, they brought another extra defender in front of me. They did a great job defensively. Very underrated defensive team. Took me out of a lot of things that I’m capable of doing or used to doing. It took us out of a lot of things we’re capable of doing, that’s getting points to the paint and getting to the free-throw line. So they did a good job. Much respect to them.
Q. Considering all that you went through this past summer and all the effort you made to get here to specifically win a championship, what are your emotions losing The Finals now?
LeBRON JAMES: It hurts of course. 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, when you guys are not around. 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.
Q. LeBron, obviously you’ve dealt with so much criticism for the last year that wasn’t at all to do with basketball. When you’re getting criticized for what’s happening on the court, does that bother you?
LeBRON JAMES: No, that doesn’t bother me. I understand this is a huge stage, and you want to perform well for nobody else besides your teammates. That’s ultimately what it’s about for me. If I can play well for my teammates, help my teammates win basketball games, then I’m always satisfied with that. It hurts me, and I get on myself when I’m not able to play well and help my teammates win.
Q. Does it bother you that so many people are happy to see you fail?
LeBRON JAMES: Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, 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.
They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point.
Q. One for LeBron and Dwyane Wade, same thing: You guys were favored to win this series, you’re expected to win tonight. I’m sure you guys expected to win. It’s an overused word, and I don’t mean this in any disrespect, I want to know your feelings, do you feel you choked in this series?
DWYANE WADE: First of all, we give credit to the Dallas Mavericks. They’re a hell of a team.
The word “choked” is overused in sports, period. We lost ballgames. We lost The Finals. We ran into a team that at this time obviously was better than us. So we give them credit, and we take nothing away from that.
Q. LeBron, with all the pressure, the criticism, the expectations, did it ever get to a point where it just weighed heavy and affected you in any way?
LeBRON JAMES: I don’t think so. I pretty much don’t listen to what everybody has to say about me or my game or what I’ve done with my career. I don’t get involved in that. This is year after year after year for me. Me as an individual, people write or say what they want to say about me. It doesn’t weigh on me at all.
Like I said, the only thing that weighs on me is when I don’t perform well for my teammates and the guys that I play for every day. That’s the only thing that weighs on me. Because I take pride in going out there and doing the things that need to be done to help my teammates win. That’s it.
Q. What was going through your mind entering the fourth quarter knowing you guys had that hole to get out of? What was your mentality?
LeBRON JAMES: Honestly, it was about fourth-quarter defense and trying to get buckets. We got into a good groove to start the fourth. I think J.J. Barea’s three at the end of the shot clock was a huge shot. Put them up seven. That was a huge shot. I think it was 81-77 at that time. He hit a shot, the three at the end of the shot clock. We played defense 23 straight — great defense for 23 straight seconds and he hit a shot like that. So it took a little bit out of us. You don’t want to dig a hole like that against anyone. Especially on your home floor going into the fourth.
Q. Dwyane, Spo was in here and he said that under no circumstances did he envision it ending tonight. That he thought Game 7 was coming. That you guys would be at your best. Is it shock right now? Is it anger? Is there any emotion coursing through you right now or is it too early for anything to set in at this point?
DWYANE WADE: No matter what, you are never ready for your season to end. Whether it ends during the regular season, in the first round, you always are shocked, especially in the playoffs, when your season comes to an end. You can never predict it. At this point, obviously if you don’t win a championship, no matter if it’s Game 6 or Game 7, you’re going to be highly disappointed. So, you know, obviously in the midst of losing, we feel it, but we’ll feel it more tomorrow. And the more time we get to think about it and think about how close an opportunity we had, it will burn inside of us as competitors. At the end of the day, it will drive us to get back in this position again.
So we understand that our goal is to win a championship. We wasn’t able to accomplish that year one. But this ain’t the end of the Miami Heat. We’ll use this as motivation and come back and try to do it again.
Q. Through four games, even though it’s 2-2, you can make a strong argument you guys were the better team. I don’t think anyone would have been surprised if those other two games turned out victories for you guys. Where or how did the series get away from you?
DWYANE WADE: It got away from us tonight when they won. This series was a close series the whole way. They were able to put a great run together tonight. We can never get over the hump. Every time we closed within four or three, they just continued to make shots. So this series was — could have went either way for a long time, until they pulled away tonight.
Like I said, we give them much credit. Their resolve was stronger than ours in this series. So we’ll learn from that, and we’ll come back as a better team and try to use some of the experience that we learned in this championship round.
Q. Dwyane, you said a few months after you won your championship that Dirk was the reason the Mavericks lost that series because he wasn’t the leader he was supposed to be in the closing moments. What do you think of the way he performed in those moments during this series?
DWYANE WADE: I think he’s played awesome, man. Obviously Dirk, five years ago, it burned in him. He learned from that experience. Even though he was 1-for-12 in the first half, he came out and made big shots for his team. He kept being aggressive, he kept shooting.
So there’s no question he’s been a great individual player, and now that he’s a champion, it goes without saying, what does it mean for his career. So congratulations to him.
Q. LeBron, we know it’s a team game and a team loss, but we know the player you are. We’ve seen the things you’ve done. We know the aspirations you have. Do you take this as a personal failing?
LeBRON JAMES: Any time you feel like you get to the top of the mountain and you fall off, there’s definitely a personal failure. It was a failure in ’07 when we lost to the Spurs when I was in Cleveland, it’s a failure now for myself losing to the Mavericks. Absolutely.
Q. For both of you guys, Rick Carlisle was in here and he spoke of his team feeling that there were billions of people that wanted the Mavericks to win. I know you guys have talked all year about not feeling that America is on your side, but do you think that might change eventually? Would you like it to change? And do you think that going through a loss where it hasn’t been easy for the Heat might get people to come around?
DWYANE WADE: Well, me personally, honestly, we can’t worry about that. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has options in life, and whether they want to be a Miami Heat fan or not, we cannot worry about that. The only thing we can do is go out for our supporters and our fans and our family and play the game the right way and enjoy it while we have it.
So obviously a lot of people wanted Dallas to win more so than us for many reasons. But that wasn’t the reason that we lost, and that wasn’t the reason they won. It had nothing to do about the game of basketball when it started. But, obviously, going forward, we’re going to come back in and no matter if we’re loved or not, we’re going to come back in and we’re going to work hard every day, like we do, and we’re going to approach the game the way we always do.
Q. What do you guys think of the perception out there that this represents a victory for a team over a group of individuals?
DWYANE WADE: Well, I mean, I personally think we all are individuals that become a team. Same thing with Dallas. They had to put pieces together to get a championship. They did a great job of that. I think signing Tyson Chandler this summer was probably the thing that helped them get to this point. We did a good job of bringing individuals together to become a team. That’s the way it happens. No matter what caliber of a player it is, everyone fits. It’s like a puzzle. And their pieces came together a little bit better than ours at the end.
Q. It’s a different philosophy in terms of having a top-heavy payroll versus something more balanced.
DWYANE WADE: They have a top-heavy payroll. We have a top three-heavy payroll. A lot of guys who took minimums to be here. I believe they have a top payroll as well. I’m pretty sure. Obviously everyone looks at us three signing together and thinking we have the highest payroll in the NBA. We don’t at all. They put a championship team together. No matter which way you do it, signing Dirk was big obviously this summer. Adding Tyson Chandler and adding Shawn Marion a year ago was big. So they’ve been building it. Eventually we’re going to build it. It just didn’t happen this year.
Q. LeBron, I know this may be tough to think about, but right now what do you feel like it’s going to take for you to win a championship?
LeBRON JAMES: I can only prepare myself each year. In the summertime I’ll put a lot of hard work into my individual game, try to bring my individual game to a team, and I work hard every day as an individual to go out there and perform at a high level for my teammates and for myself. I got close. Won two more games than I did in ’07, and hopefully next time I get here I’ll win two more games than I did in ’11.
Q. LeBron, you were a closer in the Chicago series, probably the best player in the NBA. No offense, Dwyane. Everyone is going to figure out or try to figure out what happened in these fourth quarters in terms of not closing like you did in the East Finals. What was the reason for that? And in terms of lacking your usual aggression, the way it appeared, everything okay off the court in terms of distractions or anything like that?
LeBRON JAMES: I’ve been in this league eight years. There’s no distractions that can stop me from trying to chase an NBA championship. Not you guys, not anything that goes on that’s not focused on my team and my teammates and what we’re out there — what we’re out set to do. Like I said before, I work hard to try to put myself in position to play at a high level. When you go out on the court, does the ball always go in? Absolutely not. But the one thing I know, I never hold my head low in saying, I didn’t do it the right way or I wish I would have did this. It’s not about that.
I put a lot of hard work into this season individually. We all did. So we have nothing to hang our heads low. Just use this as an extra motivation to help myself become a better player for next year.
DWYANE WADE: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.