Basketball superstar LeBron James just made sports history by leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday and into their fourth straight NBA Finals, where they will, yet again, face the Golden State Warriors. This will be the eighth time in a row James has played in the Finals, a feat matched by only four other NBA players.
Throughout his career, James has demonstrated the secret to his success: being flexible and a team player. In his case, this has meant being on top of not only his role and the skills it requires, but also learning what the other players on his team need to do to be their best.
Earlier in the season, James helped the Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls by starting on a position he hasn't played in 12 years. In a post-game interview, James said that, if his coach switches him to different positions on the basketball court, he is able to adapt quickly, thanks to what he learned playing the sport during his childhood.
"I think the best thing for me personally is ever since I was a kid, I've always learned every position on the floor," James said. "When I started playing ball, for some odd reason, I could learn every single position on the floor all at one time."
"I know every single play in every single position, so it makes the job a lot easier for me because I know where I should be and what my teammates should do," James said.
Though his listed position is small forward, James often handles the ball and runs Cleveland's offense as point guards do. Following injuries to the team's two top point guards, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue switched the lineup.
He played James in the atypical position because "if you don't have a point guard on the floor, it's tough to win games no matter how great LeBron is" as a small forward, Lue said in a news conference.
In that game, James scored 34 points and added 13 assists, both of which are above his career average of 28 points and about seven assists.
Last month, James became the only player in NBA history to win 10 consecutive division titles. As the NBA season comes to a close, James is vying for his fourth NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. If he gets it, he get one step closer to record-holding six-time MVP Michael Jordan.
James' versatility as a team player is exactly what Magic Johnson said makes James one of the greatest NBA players ever.
"He's special because he makes his teammates better and yet still plays at a high level himself," Johnson told CNBC in June, adding that James is a "special guy, special player, one of the greatest that has ever laced them up."
"The LeBron Jameses of the world come around every 20 years," Johnson said.
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