Image of LeBron James from 2009 shows his wide his influence

Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James is on the way to his seventh straight NBA Finals appearance, which is incredible anyway that you look at it. Sustaining his stranglehold on the Eastern Conference has been one of the most impressive feats in a career littered with jaw-dropping moments.

Now, he faces down a third straight matchup with the Golden State Warriors and the chance to beat this incredible team for the second straight year. The task will be harder, after all, the Dubs went out and added former MVP Kevin Durant last summer.

Once again, he is an underdog despite being the best player on the planet. This year, even more unfathomable, he has played his best postseason to date and got to the championship round with a 12-1 record despite this being the 14th year of his career.

In the moments after the Cavaliers clinched the title there was some discussion of just how impressive it was that James has been able to be this consistent for so long. After all, it has been the better part of a decade since he didn’t at least reach the final round of the playoffs.

A Cavs fan page on Instagram posted a video from the summer before the last season where LBJ didn’t play in the NBA Finals. He’s at one of his basketball camps and there are some surprising faces pictured sitting around the Cavaliers superstar.

On the ground in front of him are All-Stars DeMarcus Cousins and DeMar DeRozan. Off to the side is freshly crowned All-Star Kemba Walker from the Charlotte Hornets. The biggest surprise has to be a much younger Lance Stephenson next to King James.

All of these players had to still be in High School and now they are all in the league and have worked out great careers for themselves. Still, it is insane to see pictures like this and think about how much time has passed since LeBron made his first appearance in the Finals as a member of the Miami Heat.

For emphasis, some of these players have played on multiple teams in the NBA in the time of The King getting to all of these finals rounds. Cousins now plays in New Orleans, while Lance has played for over four teams in that span, an insane number when you think about it.

When seeing his journey all together now, it paints a picture of how difficult it can be to stay relevant in this league for that extended amount of time. Excitement for this matchup took off after the Cavs punched their ticket to the big dance and now everyone is waiting for Thursday.

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