LeBron James is heading to his sixth-straight NBA Finals – and he is determined to appreciate it more than last year’s trip.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were walking wounded heading into the 2015 Finals against the Golden State Warriors, with Kevin Love ruled out (shoulder) and Kyrie Irving hobbled by a knee injury. That left James with an enormous workload.
Though he willed the Cavaliers to two wins, James admitted that the burden took its toll and prevented him from savouring their successful run. This season, he is soaking it all in.
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ENJOYING THE MOMENT
“It’s definitely a different feeling than last year,” said James, who scored a team-high 33 points in game six to wrap up the Eastern Conference Finals. “I didn’t appreciate last year, myself personally, on getting to the Finals.
"There was so much going on in my mind, knowing that Kev [Love] was out for the rest of the season and knowing that Ky [Irving] was dealing with injuries all the way back to the first round, I didn’t appreciate it.
“Having those guys at full strength, having our team at full strength and the way I feel personally, I appreciate this moment and being able to be a part of it.It’s so great to go out there and sacrifice and play for guys that have the same goal in mind.”
With Love and Irving having strong nights in games five and six, the Cavaliers have plenty of weapons to match up against their Western Conference opponent. And they will continue to lean on James.
The emotion of achieving a sixth straight Finals appearance seemed to catch the two-time champion off-guard, but he tried to put it into words.
LIVING THE DREAM
“I’m just really blessed,” he said. “The man above has given me an unbelievable ability and I’m just trying to take full advantage of it. I get to do what I love to do every single night and that’s play the game of basketball. It’s my life, it’s everything.
“To be in a position where I can go out and help a group of guys get to somewhere they haven’t been before or want to accomplish even more in their careers. A lot of emotions are going through my head. And I’m just appreciating everything I’ve been able to do in my career so far and it means a lot.”
This will be James’ seventh career trip to the Finals and his record currently stands at 2-4. He has a third ring firmly in his sights.