LeBron James said he “tried to squeeze the orange until there was no more juice”, after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA finals.
James scored 35 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists as the Cavs beat the Boston Celtics 87-79 to clinch the Eastern Conference finals series 4-3.
It will be the eighth finals in a row for James – and a fourth for the Cavs.
They will play Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, who meet in a game seven decider on Monday.
“At the end of my career you are never going to get someone to say I didn’t leave it out on the floor,” added James, who reached the finals four years running with Miami Heat from 2011 to 2014 before returning to Cleveland where he started his career.
The odds had appeared stacked against Cleveland, who came from 3-2 down in the series. They tied the series with victory in game six but still had to win in Boston – against a side who had not lost at home in the postseason.
In beating Boston, the Cavs also became the first team to win on the road in the Eastern Conference finals series.
“We’ve been counted out for a long time this season,” added James.
“Right around the trade deadline, no matter if we made a trade or not at that point in time, I kind of just switched my mindset on saying, ‘Let’s get the most out of this season I can’.”
Jeff Green finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, JR Smith added 12 points and Tristan Thompson scored 10 for Cleveland, who beat Boston 109-99 on Friday to force game seven.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtic attack with 24 points as Boston suffered their only loss in 11 home games during the play-offs.
The Warriors beat the Rockets 115-86 on Saturday to level the series and force their decisive game seven on Monday in Houston.