CLEVELAND - In the aftermath of the Cavaliers' four-game sweep of the Raptors, LeBron James was asked if he felt this way 10 days ago, which allowed the superstar the opportunity to break up the silence with a pair of one-liners.
"What was 10 days ago?"
"Ten days ago? I don't remember 10 minutes ago."
Everyone laughed at that point, but it wasn't that simple. James was quick to redirect his answer with the truth about how he felt when Indiana beat Cleveland 121-87 to force a Game 7 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, which was a long way from the 128-93 victory the Cavaliers enjoyed Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
"At the end of the day, I understand a series isn't won until you win four, so me, personally, my confidence never wavered," James said. "It's just who I am. I believe in what I bring to the table and what I provide to the team, and I believe in my teammates."
So in those 10 days, James did what he usually does. He took command of the Eastern Conference playoffs. He's averaging 33.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 11 games, but we're used to all that. He's also leading his most captivating playoff run since steering Cleveland to its first-ever NBA championship in 2016.
If this continues, then he will have a new run to put atop a very impressive list.
Think about it. When he first reached the NBA Finals in 2007, you knew more trips were coming. When he lost to the Celtics in 2010, you knew he was going. He's won and lost NBA Finals series in between, but you counted on him to be there. Ten days ago that wasn't the case, and 10 minutes from now that feeling might change.
The Cavs were left for dead after that blowout at Indiana, and the perception changed - James is definitely leaving Cleveland after this season.
Then they won Game 7 and swept Toronto, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and now it's easy to see James staying with the Cavaliers. He's spliced in two buzzer-beaters at Quicken Loans Arena and nearly made a third in Game 1 against Toronto, but the message is consistent with the new supporting cast. Lose by 34. Win by 35. James finds a way to make sure Cleveland comes out ahead.
"As everyone was burying my teammates alive throughout that first-round series, I just continued to tell them, 'Listen, we can't win without each and every one doing their job and being as great as they can be,'" James said. "I continued to preach that."
Preach on, LeBron. There is not a more fascinating storyline in the playoffs. James somehow trumps Golden State's run for a third championship in four years, James Harden's bid to get Houston to the NBA Finals, Boston's make-it-work run without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward out or Philadelphia's bid to rally behind Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Everybody wants to know what James will do next - or at least they should. The next 10 days or so will still revolve around the Cavaliers as James tries to lead a team to the NBA Finals for the eighth consecutive season.
We'll pass the downtime with the increasingly contemptuous legacy arguments with Michael Jordan after each playoff game. It's an exercise that should be put on hold until James is finished, but we can say this with certainty: This portion of James' career is more interesting, albeit for different reasons.
Consider that Jordan turned 34 during the 1996-97 season, a year in which he led the Bulls to the fifth of six total championships. The following season, he made the game-winning shot over Bryon Russell and walked off to a three-year retirement before a two-year sideshow with the Wizards.
Jordan was captivating because we knew he was going to win, and he always delivered. That six-championship currency doesn't devalue with time, no matter how many clips from the 90s you put on Twitter. It's a standard, but it wasn't necessarily more compelling than what James is doing now. Jordan's aura will not vanish.
But James, who turns 34 next season, offers a more entertaining narrative for the stretch run. We don't know where he'll be next season. We don't know if he will add more NBA Finals. We still know he's the best player in the game right now, and there are no indications that's going to stop. There are more gripping questions developing around King James, and all of them are worth exploring.
Will he stay so we can see Cavs-Warriors IV, V and VI? Or will he bolt for the Western Conference and join the Lakers? Or maybe stay in the East and join Simmons and Embiid in Philadelphia for a super team that can match the Warriors? How long will James be this dominant?
The next 10 days will be a part of that, and don't think James' memory is fading. When the laughs down died down, he pulled out a sequence from Game 3 against the Raptors that won't go viral by any means.
"When you get to our stage, some two points change the momentum of the game," James said. "If you look at Game 3, at the end of the second quarter I was able to find Jeff Green for a slip dunk at the end of that quarter. That's a momentum play. That's not just two points. It's a momentum play."
Nobody remembers that play at that first-half buzzer. Everybody remembers the off-balance floater James hit two quarters later, resulting in a 105-103 victory.
That's what James sees. Two points. Two nights later the Cavaliers moved on to another Eastern Conference finals, and now we have a few more days to wait for the next round.
"It's all going to be a learning experience for us," James said. "The good thing is we have another round to continue to learn and try to get better."
The same could be said for James. We know everything and still want to learn more. We also have no idea what to expect for the next 10 days, but one song remains the same.
We'll remember what happens next forever, and there's nothing more captivating than that.