TORONTO: LeBron James has only two championships to show for his previous six trips to the NBA Finals, so it’s not as if everything he touches turns to gold.



But as he and Cavaliers teammate James Jones joined a list of nine men who have played in six consecutive NBA Finals Friday night, James certainly proved he’s a difference-maker.



Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey used that tag to describe James after the Cavs closed out the Eastern Conference finals with a 113-87 victory in Game 6 at Air Canada Centre.



James and Jones started their record streak with the Miami Heat in 2011 and won in 2012 and ’13. With their back-to-back trips as Cavs, they joined seven members of the Boston Celtics – Bill Russell, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, Satch Sanders, Tom Heinsohn, Frank Ramsey and Bob Cousy.



The Celtics appeared in 10 Finals in a row and 12 out of 13 during their run. But Russell was the last to accomplish the feat 50 years ago.



“That’s a lot of years,” Cavs center Tristan Thompson said of James. “It just shows the work ethic he has, the grind, the hunger to keep getting to the top.”



James skirted a question on the accomplishment, but admitted he teared up during the post-game interview with Doris Burke on ESPN.



“I didn't appreciate last year, what we were able to accomplish in our first year,” James said. “I'm just truly blessed. I mean, the Man above has given me an unbelievable ability, and I just try to take full advantage of it. I get to do what I love to do every single night, and that's to play the game of basketball. That's my life. It's everything, and I give everything to the game.



“To be in a position where I can go out and help a group of guys get to places where either they haven't been before or been, but want to accomplish even more in their careers, it just means a lot. So a lot of emotions were going through my head and appreciating what I've personally been able to do throughout my career so far.”



Teammates J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert know what reaching six consecutive finals represents.



“That’s work, man, dedication,” Smith said. “Last year he took three or four days off and was right back in the gym working. He’s been like that since I first met him in high school. Everything he does, the work he puts in, the hours, it pays off.”



Shumpert said there’s much more to it than most realize.



“It all factors in, from taking care of your body to eating right to getting treatment, all the stretching, yoga, watching hours and hours of film, it’s a collection of things,” Shumpert said. “It’s not just when you’re in season, it’s off-season, your home, your family, your wife and kids. It’s a different level of focus.



“Constantly, constantly, constantly he’s preaching to us how special it is to get here. As many times as he’s been here, to see him react like that just winning the Eastern Conference championship is unbelievable.”



It wasn’t the only time Friday night that word was used to describe James.



“He's just a great player. He's a proven winner,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “He's always won over the course of his career, and to go to six straight Finals is unbelievable. He puts the work in. And he deserves it.”



James is a magnet for free agents like Richard Jefferson, who thought he favored the Dallas Mavericks until his agent told him the Cavs had called. Jefferson joined James in August, 2015.



“It’s tough because sometimes you don’t recognize greatness until it’s moved on and you can look at it from a distance,” Jefferson said. “He’s one of the greatest players of all time and I came here to play with him. I was actually mad at my agent that he didn’t tell me that the Cavaliers had called early on. He knew I liked the Dallas situation and that was our first conversation. But when he said Cleveland has some interest, I was like, ‘What are we waiting on?’”



Casey pointed out the effect James has on those around him. According to ESPN Stats and Information, James also became the second man to play in at least three Finals with two different teams, joining Dennis Rodman (Pistons and Bulls).



“What is this, his sixth Finals? You put him on any team in this league and he's going to be a difference-maker,” Casey said of James. “Everybody in that organization, their level has gone up because he's on their team.”



Jones didn’t get emotional in the locker room when he spoke of his six trips, all with James. But he’s cherishing another one.



“I’ve been extremely blessed to do it, to be able to play with some good teams, good coaches, good organizations for six straight Finals,” Jones said. “Every time you go you just rush a little bit more because you don’t take it for granted. This isn’t given. Every year 30 teams fight for this and we’re one of the blessed two teams to be there. I know what it feels like to win it, I know what it feels like to lose and I don’t want to lose it again.”



Jones hinted that this appearance might be a little different than the previous five.



“They change. You become more mature,” Jones said. “Most importantly, it’s the guys you compete with. These guys are reaching new heights and to get a chance to be a part of that and see them makes it different compared to when you’re that guy. It’s special and I’m looking forward to it.”