Spoelstra pays tribute to LeBron

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    MIAMI Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra on Tuesday paid tribute to his former player LeBron James, who will make a 10th NBA Finals appearance this week but in a different jersey than when the duo was celebrating titles together.

    James, now with the Lakers, spent four seasons under Spoelstra in Miami where he reached the NBA finals each year and won two championships before going on to win another with Cleveland.

    James now finds his former Heat team standing between him and a fourth title.

    Spoelstra, speaking to the media on the eve of the NBA finals, was asked how James is different to when he last wore a Heat uniform in 2014.

    “He’s seen everything,” said Spoelstra, whose Heat team is underdogs against the Lakers in the best-of-seven series.

    “At this point in his career, it’s just about winning. And his ability to do what he does at his age is incredibly uncommon. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to be able to maintain that.”

    By reaching the championship round, the 35-year-old James joins Bill Russell (12), Sam Jones (11) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10) as the only players with 10 or more NBA finals appearances.