OAKLAND (AFP) - When LeBron James left the Miami Heat last July after four consecutive NBA Finals trips to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers, he never dreamed to be so close to a title so soon.
But when the Finals open on Thursday, he will be there for the fifth year in a row as his revamped Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors in the best-of-seven series.
"Could I foresee this? At the beginning of the season, I couldn't," James said.
"But I knew I had to lead these guys and if they followed my leadership, I knew I could get them to a place where they hadn't been before."
So how does James like Cleveland's chances now?
"We have heart. We have determination. We have everything we need to win," he said.
Cleveland has suffered the longest major sport title drought of any US city, having last tasted a crown when the 1964 Cleveland Browns won the NFL throne.
"To be at this point, it's very emotional," James said.
"We all know how long it has been. You can try and not focus on it. You can try to say, OK, it's not about that. But we all know it. The one thing we can guarantee... is that we will give it our best shot."
This was James' dream last July when he wrote an essay in Sports Illustrated announcing his decision.
He missed Cleveland's first game of the season against Golden State, a 112-94 road loss, but in February scored 42 points to give the Cavaliers a 110-99 home victory in the rematch.