MIAMI -- About an hour before the fourth Game 7 of his career, LeBron James smiled and described the moment as "something that we all dreamed of."
For James in these kind of moments, there have been dreams fulfilled and there have also been some nightmares.
In his first year in the playoffs in 2006, James and the Cavaliers lost at Detroit in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. In 2008 against Boston -- the first year of the Celtics' Big Three -- the Cavs were eliminated in Game 7 of the second round again despite James' 45 points, five rebounds and six assists at TD Garden. It was one of the epic performances of his career.
Finally last season, James and the Heat ousted the Celtics in Game 7 of the conference finals at home.
"We've been through it," James said. "Nothing can surprise us, one year to the next, one series to the next. We've seen it all. This is another opportunity for us to cash in and punch our ticket to the Finals."
His eyes widened and he smiled when asked if he ever pinches himself when he realizes how special the opportunity of playing in a Game 7 really is.
"Absolutely, I've done it four, five, six, seven, eight, nine times, man," James said. "I grew up watching Game 7s and this is awesome. For a basketball player to be able to be in a Game 7 and to punch your ticket to the NBA Finals, it doesn't get any better. This is something that we all dreamed of, and if you didn't dream of it, then you shouldn't be here tonight, honestly. Probably the most exciting game of the year for me."
James couldn't recall off the top of his head his favorite Game 7 memory from watching on TV when he was growing up, but said with a laugh, "I watched MJ a lot. He didn't go to too many Game 7s, so I can't really reference him too much."
Michael Jordan, of course, famously ousted the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the 1998 Eastern Conference finals.
"Yeah, but I don't even want to say Indiana," James said. "There've been a lot, but to be a part of this is unbelievable."
Earlier Monday morning, after the Heat's shootaround, James gathered his team and gave a speech -- the contents of which he wouldn't reveal. At least not before Game 7 against the Pacers.
"I'm not going to say it," he said. "I gave a message to my guys and they're ready to play."
In a Game 7, who wouldn't be?