LeBron James is about to play in his 7th straight NBA Finals.
Think about that for a second.
That's seven straight seasons, carrying the weight of intense expectations both here in Cleveland and in Miami, and delivering a trip to the championship round.
And you can make the argument that except for Game 3 of these Eastern Conference Finals, James has never played better in any postseason than he is right now.
That elite level of play was on display again on Thursday night as James poured in 35 points, dished out 8 assists, grabbed 8 rebounds, and had two steals to lead the Cavaliers to a dominating 135-102 win over the Celtics in Boston.
Oh by the way, LeBron also made a little history on Thursday, surpassing Michael Jordan as the league's all-time scoring leader in the playoffs. That accomplishment might mean more to James than any other individual accolade he's received in his storied NBA career. "I think at the end of the day, for my name to come up in the discussion with the greatest basketball player of all time, it's like, wow," LeBron said of his idol. "I did pretty much everything that MJ did when I was a kid. I shot fadeaways before I should have. I wore a leg sleeve on my leg and folded it down so you saw the red part. I wore black and red shoes with white socks. I wore short shorts so you could see my undershorts underneath."
James made the press room in Boston laugh by adding this drop-in, "I didn't go bald like Mike, but I'm getting there. But it will be post-career, though. That's the only thing I didn't do."
Not even Michael Jordan took his team to 7 straight NBA Finals, although to be fair MJ took a year off to play baseball, and was rusty in the postseason he returned in the two years that fell in the middle of consecutive three-peats. But what LeBron has done in the past, and what he's doing right now is pretty staggering in itself. Yes, he's played more postseason games than Jordan did, but Jordan also took more shots than the King. They're different kinds of players who are similarly among the finest to play the game. Period.
I loved this answer from LeBron when asked what he wants the youth who idolize him like he idolized Jordan to take away from his approach to the game: "I want the fundamentals of the game to be as great as they can be. And if some kid or a group of kids from the West Coast or the East Coast or the Midwest or the South and everything in between all around the world can look at me and say, well, I made the extra pass because LeBron made the extra pass, or I got a chase-down block and I didn't give up on the play because LeBron didn't give up, that would mean the world to me."
Tweet of the night involving LBJ
Nothing like your teammates sitting up with you and taking a selfie at the postgame podium!
J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love crash LeBron's presser to take a selfie 😂 pic.twitter.com/erDofR3DKo— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 26, 2017
Speaking of his teammates, LeBron singled out two of his newer ones who will be making their first NBA Finals appearances: Veterans Kyle Korver and Deron Williams. "It's been 12 and 14 years for those two guys. So we all need to soak it up. This is a great moment, and this is not promised. We know that. But once we start to lock in on that beast of a matchup that we've got next round, then we'll be very focused and I'll let those guys know what to expect out of a Finals appearance."
Speaking of that 'Beast of a Matchup'
Yes, LeBron was asked about a third straight NBA Finals clash with Golden State. "I'm going to be honest, I'm not in the right mind to even talk about Golden State," he began. "It's too stressful, and I'm not stressed right now. I'm very happy about our accomplishment. I have no discussion -- Golden State, they've been the best team in our league for the last three years, and then they added an MVP. That's all I can give you right now, because I'm happy and I don't want to be stressed. They cause a lot of stress, and I'll get to that point when we start to prepare for them."
'Best team in our league the last three years, and then they added an MVP'??? Yeah, that's a shot fired.
The LeBron James Says highlight of the night is....
Come on man, what else but this:
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