LeBron James had words of humility and emotion in the early-morning hours on Saturday after he and his Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, sending Cleveland to their second consecutive NBA Finals. James scored 33 points.
“We’re not entitled to anything,” said James. “We work our tails off every single day. We commit to one another and we sacrifice to one another. We’re not supposed to be here. We earned our right.”
James, who is headed to his sixth straight NBA Final series (and his seventh overall), has achieved a feat not seen by a player or team in at least 50 years. Cleveland.com reports that the Celtics’ last of eight consecutive Finals was in 1966. The outlet also reports that no professional Cleveland sports team has won a championship in nearly 52 years.
“There’s definitely a different feeling,” James said of his second year going to the Finals with his hometown team. “I didn’t appreciate last year myself personally getting to the Finals. Just so much was going on in my mind, knowing that Kev [Kevin Love] was out for the rest of the season and knowing that Ky [Kyrie Irving] was dealing with injuries all the way from the first round. I just didn’t appreciate it.
“Having these guys right here at full strength, having our team at full strength, and the way I feel personally, I appreciate this moment, to be able to be a part of it and to be there once again,” he continued.
Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Irving had 30 points for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series for the Finals.
Last year Cleveland lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games, the first year of James’ prodigal-son-like return to his home team.
Speaking of home teams, James and rapper Drake, who hails from Toronto, had been trading barbs, screams and digs over the b-ball rivalry all week. James could be seen talking briefly to the rapper after he headed off the court following Friday’s win.
But to take that native pride a step further, James seems focused and ready to take one for Ohio and Cleveland in 2016.
“I know our city deserves it,” James said. “Our fans deserve it. But that gives us no sense of entitlement. We’ve still got to go out and do it.”
Read more at Cleveland.com.