"If I were guarding me, I wouldn't talk to me," James said. "That's not a good choice of words."
James spoke Wednesday after the team's practice in preparation for Thursday's Game 3 of the Cavs' first-round NBA playoff series against Chicago. And some might say James was not choosing his words well -- because it could, when read, come off as showing a lot of pride. Excessive pride, perhaps.
Like most superstars, James can say things like that. Because he's right, and because his play backs up his words. Some, too, might say that James should not have talked back to the Bulls' bench during Monday's Game 2 win, but James said he really didn't say much.
"I didn't mouth off at all," he said. "I was smiling most of the time and looking over at the bench and just giving them that look that I can make outside shots."
He also denied that he told the Bulls bench he would score 40, which he did.
"I absolutely did not say that," he said. He even said he did not think it was at all "disrespectful" for the Bulls to challenge him to take jump shots.
"I understand that teams would love to have me shoot jumpers and keep me out of the paint," James said. "That's what I would do if I were guarding me. I wouldn't talk to me if I were guarding me, though. I wouldn't. I would let me play my game."
James made another interesting point about his effort in Game 2 when he said it bothers him to hear that when he scores he does not get his teammates involved.
"But I still end up with eight assists, I still end up with eight rebounds," he said. Which is exactly what he wound up with in Game 2, and what he did in the regular season when he averaged 29.7 points and 8.6 assists per game. He scores, and he passes.
"LeBron is a superstar," Cavs guard Anthony Parker said. "But he's one of the most unselfish superstars."
"It doesn't make sense to me," James said. "I'm probably one of the only guys in the league when I decide to have over 30 points or 40 points, then I'm not getting my teammates involved. I feel like my presence on the court as an individual automatically gets my teammates involved. Then no matter what's going on throughout the course of the game, I'm always playing for the better of the team."
Call it immodest if you like, and some will and use it against him. But he again spoke the truth. What offensive set is not better with James on the court? Like every superstar, James has a unique understanding of the game, and of the games he's played. His analysis is usually spot-on.
"Game 2, the style of the game changed a little bit, and I was able to get a hot hand," he said. "But J Moon (Jamario Moon) was still able to play great. Mo (Williams) was able to be 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. 'Twan (Antawn Jamison) was able to get double digits again. I think as a team we all continued to play great, it's just that the numbers themselves and points were not the same as Game 1, so you kind of made it seem like LeBron was the only person who did something."
James also was able to point out specific plays when he set up teammates. One Williams jump shot that put the Cavs up five came off a screen set by James.
"I'm still getting guys involved," he said.
Too much was made of James' jumpers, but he took them because he was shooting so well (70 percent for the game). He didn't make his first jump shot until there was 7:07 left in the second quarter. His first four baskets were on drives to the basket. Three were layups, two with the left hand, and one a thunderous slam over rookie James Johnson. He scored 15 fourth-quarter points. Four points came on layups, four on free throws, a 3-pointer over Joakim Noah and four on jumpers.
"We know what LeBron can do and we trust him to make the right decision," Parker said. "If he's feeling it, then we trust him to score, which he did at the end of the game."
The Bulls admitted they want James to take jumpers. It's logical given James' strength and ability to score at the rim, but in Game 2 it didn't work. Making the same shots will not be as easy in Chicago -- though in the regular season James averaged more points on the road (31.0) than he did at home (28.4). James said the Cavs have to do a better job in defensive rebounding -- Chicago had 13 offensive rebounds in Game 2 -- and control the tempo to try to take the crowd out of the game.
His thoughts about the city of Chicago?
"Great city," he said.
That brought laughter, because most thought James was reacting to Noah's criticism of Cleveland. He wasn't.
"What do you want me to say?" he said. "It's an awesome city, honestly. One of the best cities we have in America. Great restaurants. Great shopping. I have nothing bad about Chicago, man. At all. ... I'm dead serious. I think we all love Chicago. I go on vacation sometimes in Chicago with my family."
"I do," he said. "Y'all are making it a joke, though. That's what's going to happen tomorrow. But I'm serious. Y'all going to make it a joke and everybody's going to be, 'Oh LeBron ...' But I'm being very serious."
James said he spent portions of three summers when he was in high school, working at Michael Jordan's facility.
"Don't try to make this a joke," James said. "Because I love Chicago. It's a great city."
As usual, he's right.