Cleveland fans witnessed a unforgettable Game 6 win on their home court Thursday night.
And after that win, LeBron James said the fans deserved every second of it.
"They deserved it," James told reporters in the post-game conference. "They deserved it. We knew what we were going to get out of them, and now it was up to us to go out and give it back to them, and I think we held up our end of the bargain. We knew what we were going to get out of those guys, all 20,000-plus. They were phenomenal from the time we ran out on the floor. So they deserved tonight, and it was special to be out there for them."
Read the entire transcript from James, Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving below:
Q. LeBron, the last two games your efficiency rating is off the charts, and that's something that you pride yourself on. What's been the key to being so efficient and having back-to-back 41-point games?
LeBRON JAMES: I give a lot of credit to my teammates and my coaching staff to put me in position to be successful. I mean, without the ball moving, without the screens being set, without the coaching staff putting out the game plans for us offensively then, what I've been able to do, it doesn't happen. So those guys definitely get the credit.
Q. And for Kyrie, you seemed to tweak your ankle or your foot. Normally you'd wait around with the guys and leave, yet you headed straight to the locker room. Can you give us an update?
KYRIE IRVING: I'm good. I'm good, yeah, I'm good. I'm okay.
Q. LeBron, with the turnovers that you had talked about early earlier in the series, you only had two in the last game, only one this game. Talk about efficiency. Do you think that's helped with the back-to-back 41-point games?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I mean, we know we can't turn the ball over versus this team. They make you pay anytime you make a mistake, and for us to only have 12 turnovers today for 16 points is definitely key to our success. You can't turn the ball over versus anyone in our league, but especially in The Finals versus the defending champions. You can't do it because they'll make you pay. So we did a great job of not turning the ball over, including myself, and I just try to put myself in position, put my teammates in position to be successful.
Q. LeBron, when you guys are down 3-1, to these guys that are on the left and right of you, what did you see in them or what do you see in them as a player and a person that gave you so much belief that you guys can put yourselves in position to do what you're doing right now?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I mean, we just focus on the next game, focus on the next minute, and we focus on the game plan that we had to master up to try to even get to the next play. And it wasn't even trying to get to a Game 7. We were like, okay, well, once we went to Game 5, we went out there and being down 3-1, we were like, okay, well, we've got to go home anyway, so let's go home and play in front of our fans, and we were able to do that. And tonight, these guys were, I mean, unbelievable. Once again, Double T's energy and activity, his level, his rebounding, obviously giving us extra possessions, but his defensive rebounding from the beginning was at an all-time high level for himself, even though as great as he is, he was spectacular tonight. And Kyrie's just a floor general. He does what he does. It's no surprise what he does. And we put ourselves in position to be able to be in a Game 7.
Q. You've had obviously you've been in Game 7 in The Finals once before, on your home floor then, of course. But home, road, one chance to win this championship, will the locale matter to you whatsoever?
LeBRON JAMES: I'll take it. It don't matter to me (laughing). Like I told you guys the other day, it's two of the greatest words in the world, and that's "Game 7", so I'll play it anywhere.
Q. How long did it take for the realization to set in that you have an ultimate game opportunity? Were you even thinking about it before the clock hit zeros?
LeBRON JAMES: No, I'm actually not really thinking about it too much right now. I'm ready to start my treatment session, get home, getting something to eat, lay down, get ready for the flight tomorrow. I'm very just chill right now, actually.
Q. Kyrie, curious just about now that you are in Game 7, how you keep the moment from becoming too big? I mean, this is the biggest game you've ever been in and after all that you've been through personally, how do you separate from that and just kind of focus on what you need to do out there on the floor?
KYRIE IRVING: By just accepting it, don't shy away from it. It's Game 7. All I've done over my life is watched a lot of Game 7s and seen how guys come out, seeing the sway of the game, just watch a lot of film on it. But now that I actually get to play in one and experience it, it's just I'm ready to live in it, and just hoping we come out with a win on the other end of it. But this is the all-time, all-time high of being part of a team when both teams have one chance to win championships, one game that's separating that, and it just doesn't stop there. So I'm excited to just get to Sunday and see what it's really like.
Q. Tristan, what do you think allowed you to be so successful tonight? What was your mindset coming into the game?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: Like LeBron and Kyrie said, be a star in your role. Be a star in your role, and for me that's high energy, use my motor, just play hard. Play hard be relentless on the glass. And that's what I bring to this team. That's my job, just be a star in your role, and I try to do that every night.
Q. Did you feel that you had kind of a connection with LeBron? He was throwing the alley-oops, and it seemed like it was kind of just easy at one point. Was there something that you saw on the defense that kind of allowed that play to continue over and over again?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: He's a great passer. Threw it right where I wanted it to go, and it's up to me to go up and go get it, go up and go get it. When LeBron drives to the rim or Kyrie, they attract two guys, so for myself and others, just get to the open area and when they throw it to you, pass to you, go up and finish strong.
Q. LeBron, in the second half there was a stretch where you scored or assisted on 27 straight points. I think you scored 20 of them. When you get in that mode, do you find something in terms of rhythm within yourself, or is it you finding something the way they're defending you? Can you just describe what it's like to be like that and playing like that?
LeBRON JAMES: I'm just out there playing, just reading, reacting. My teammates, like I said, have put me in position to be successful either when I have the ball or don't have the ball, they give me the ball wherever I would like it. Setting great screens and trying to put pressure on their defense. I've been fortunate enough to see the ball go through the hoop the last couple of games. So, you know, I feel pretty good.
Q. You've obviously had a long history here in Cleveland. What would it mean to you to be in the building tonight and see the fans have a game like this?
LeBRON JAMES: They deserved it. They deserved it. We knew what we were going to get out of them, and now it was up to us to go out and give it back to them, and I think we held up our end of the bargain. We knew what we were going to get out of those guys, all 20,000-plus. They were phenomenal from the time we ran out on the floor. So they deserved tonight, and it was special to be out there for them.
Q. Do you allow yourself to feel that, the emotion of it being from here?
LeBRON JAMES: Nope, I don't. I just play. I know what I put into the game. I know how true I am to the game. I know how true I am to these fans. So, no, I don't let it get to me.
Q. Kyrie, you kind of laughed a little while ago when Dave said that LeBron either scored or assisted on 27 straight points. Being in the game with him when he has a run like that, what is that like for you as another teammate?
KYRIE IRVING: Special, very special. You try not to sit back and watch because you're trying to make sure that you create space for him and able to give him outlets when he needs it, but I mean, when a guy's got it going like that, I mean, it's just unbelievable to be a part of. I'm not going to say exactly what he said to us on the bench, but we kind of knew what he was up to and what he was trying to do out there for us offensively. It was just stay aggressive, stay aggressive. That fourth quarter was unbelievable when he's playing in between like that mid-range, and outside, and driving to the rim, and also creating opportunities for all of us, it makes the game a lot easier. And then we're getting out in transition, I mean, it's just unbelievable to be a part of.
Q. People now will say that you and Steph Curry are the two greatest players on the planet, but they don't necessarily determine which one is the best. You've competed so hard in this series. You seem to take special delight sometimes in blocking his shot. Tell me what that's been like to compete against a guy that's sort of vying for that title with you?
LeBRON JAMES: Oh, I mean, obviously, at the end of the day for me I think -- I don't really get involved in that. I try to be the best player I can be for this team every night, lead these guys out. I mean, I actually had a competitive shooting game with my kids last night. You know, we were shooting baskets last night page 2 of 5 between myself and my two boys, which ended up not going so well for me at times. You know, those guys have home-court advantage over me. But at the end of the day my whole mindset is how I can put myself in position to help these guys be successful and I could be successful as well. I don't really get caught up in what everybody else talks about. I think you should know me by now. I see what you're trying to do, though.
Q. Kyrie, this may sound stupid, but on the court you said this would be the hardest thing you've ever had to do in a Game 7. I'm just curious how do you know that, and what makes you say that?
KYRIE IRVING: Well, me personally, I've said that since we entered The Finals to myself, but understanding that this will be. It's the highest level of basketball I've ever played in my life, and going down and being in the position that we were in, being down 3-1, coming back home, understanding what was at stake and what we had to do in order to win basketball games. I had to put it in perspective. And when I do that, I just do everything possible to prepare as best I can. Now you just control what you can control, and you go on with that mindset that you just trust yourself, you trust your game, you trust your preparation, and you live with the results after that. So I know that Game 7 will be the hardest thing ever though.
Q. LeBron, your degree of confidence going into this game, has it changed much from the first time you went for a championship at St. V, when you were in high school?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, when you're prepared and you're well-prepared, then you have a lot of confidence going into a game. I was a freshman at St. Mary, we were well prepared. We had a great high school coach in Keith Dambrot, who is now the head coach at Akron U, who prepared us throughout the whole Playoffs, and then when we got to the state championships. So we were prepared. So we went out and just let it happen. Let it play, and let it play out. Now at this point in my life, sitting here today, we're well prepared with T Lue and our coaching staff. They prepare us, and it's up to us to go out and play, so we play with a lot of confidence and understanding that it's not -- there's nothing on the court that will blindside us because we're just a prepared bunch.
Q. Obviously it took a lot from everyone, not just you, to fight back from down 3-1. I wonder what it's taken just to get to this point, and what's left now for one more game?
LeBRON JAMES: I guess we just take one day at a time. We haven't rushed to get to a Game 5. We didn't rush to get to a Game 6 today. And we won't rush to get to a Game 7 on Sunday. At the end of the day this is going to be it for all of us, including you guys. One more game left, and you guys are going to give it all you've got, we're going to give it all we've got, and the Warriors will do the same, and we'll live with the results. That's how you go about it. But we won't rush it. I won't rush it. I'm going to sleep very well tonight. I'll sleep very well the following night, watch a couple movies and just get ready to play.
KYRIE IRVING: I won't rush it either.
Q. Ty told us at the beginning of the fourth you said, "I'm not coming out." What is the mental process you use to shut off any physical exhaustion when you know you have to push through the fourth?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, Klay went on his own barrage for the last three-and-a-half minutes in the third quarter, and we were up 20 at one point and he kind of went on his own 12-0 run or whatever the case may be, just hitting threes, getting to the lane and just kind of took a little bit of momentum from us. He looked at me and I was like, I just didn't want to come out. I felt like those first couple minutes of the fourth quarter were going to be very important, and I just wanted to be out there for my teammates and try to make some plays happen, and I was fortunate enough to do that.
Q. With all the offensive pyrotechnics that you and Kyrie and the statlines you're putting up, getting lost is the defense, four steals, three blocks. That's become so typical for you and setting the tone for the whole team. Can you talk about defense? Because none of us would have imagined holding the Warriors down to 90 points, and things like that almost typically now. Have you found such a defensive gear here in these Finals?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, you have to defend, and that's what we've all been talking about since we got together even from last year that in order for us to be ultimately successful, we have to defend, and I mean, if you don't defend versus these guys, you see what happened. I mean, we've all seen it all year for the last couple years. If you don't defend these guys or you make a mistake, they make you pay. So our antennas have to be up throughout the course of a 48-minute game on every possession, because as soon as you make a mistake, they get a three here, they get a slip to the rim here. They get offensive rebound and everyone's in the paint and they seek out page 3 of 5 to the perimeter for extra threes. So our antennas just have to be up, and I think it's been there, not every game, not as well as we'd all like, but the last few games our antennas have been razor sharp.
Q. Couple questions for you, Tristan: Just in your role, how much satisfaction do you take leaving the building after kind of delivering the kind of performance you did in your role tonight? And in that role, obviously, offensive rebounding is a big signature for you, when you're studying LeBron the way he's been -- how he's been attacking and shooting the last couple of games, what are you seeing from your perspective that's been a little different from what he had in the first three or four games?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: To your first question, do your job. Do your job. Do it at a high level. Give it everything you've got. This is it. This is it. This is The Finals. There's not much more to say about that. But for LeBron, when he's attacking and getting to the rim or in a pick-and-roll, just find ways to get him open, setting a good screen or if they attract a double team, just get to the open area. Get to the open area, and if he throws it, go up and finish strong, go up and finish strong because he's attracting the bigs, so you're going to have a small on you, so go up and finish strong and put it on the rim.
Q. LeBron, I want to ask you about your relationship with Coach Lue and how the two of you feed off each other? How would you compare him with many of the other coaches you've played for?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I think all my coaches throughout my career have had a meaningful part of my career. Everyone's been different in their own ways of how they philosophize the game and things of that nature, but I could talk in the present right now. I think me and Coach Lue just kind of, we connect that's something that's bigger than basketball, our upbringing. Being from a single-parent household, being from an inner-city community, being a statistic that you weren't supposed to make it out and there's no way you're going to make it out. You're going to be another one of those African-American kids, and we both made it out from tough situations growing up, and people just saying there's no way you can do it. So before we even met each other, you have a sense of that type of feeling. Then I came into the league and I'm a huge basketball fan, obviously, and I watched The Finals when he was with the Lakers and seen the spark that he gave that team when Phil Jackson gave him the nod. And I think everybody's just so caught up in the shot that AI (Allen Iverson) made when he stepped over him, but people don't realize the impact that he made on that team, and the guy that just accepted his role. He's able to win a championship. So our relationship has just grown over the years, and just being a competitor, going against him and then seeing him as a coach, going against him again when he was in Boston and things of that nature and with the Clippers, and then when I came back and he was the assistant coach, continues to grow. I think it's like anything, when you're around someone every single day, I guess it's like a marriage or a girlfriend. You're around her every single day, they get better and better and better if it's genuine, and that's what it is here with myself and T Lue.
Q. Kyrie and Tristan, what has LeBron meant to your growth as a basketball player? Him being so great in setting the bar in another stratosphere, how do you come to work every single day to try to meet that level of expectations that he has?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: It started last year after Labor Day. LeBron sent a text to everyone, "Let's get in early and start training. Let's get ready for the season." And we walk in and he's in a full-drenched sweat an hour before the meeting time. So for a young player and for me and Kyrie, the first couple years, not being the best and being some tough years, seeing, in my eyes, one of the best players ever in a full drench of sweat working out, it gives you motivation as a young player. It shows that if he's in the gym working his tail off and you guys know how good he is, I have no excuse. I have no excuse not to be in the gym, getting extra work, getting extra shots, free throws, whatever it may be. And just the way he plays it elevates everyone's game. I'm blessed.
KYRIE IRVING: Man, I'm going to save the long message because he knows how much he's meant to this team and then also to me personally, so it's been great.
Q. You guys have been working since Labor Day. Tristan will have played 103 games come Sunday. When you factor in all the work that's gone on from September through tonight and how his game is predicated upon energy and effort, how impressive or how important is what he's been doing this late in the season?
LeBRON JAMES: 103 consecutive games, correct? I mean that's phenomenal. It's a testament to his professionalism as a young guy, him keeping his body not only in shape but understanding that it's more than just playing basketball. Kid takes care of his body every single day, he's been durable for this franchise even before I even came back. page 4 of 5 It's a great feeling when you can walk into a building and know that that guy's going to be in uniform. No matter what's going on, no matter what's happening, you know that guy's going to be in uniform and he's going to give it everything he's got. It's been great, and 103 on Sunday, and hopefully out of all those games he's played, we want that one to be the best one he's played. So look forward to it, and I'm done. Thank you.