LeBron James is one of the best basketball players of all-time in large part due to his natural physical abilities and incredible work ethic. But it’s his IQ and complete and total understanding of the game which really sets him apart. 

He’s always a step ahead of his opponents, on both sides of the ball, and a recent story from DeMar DeRozan emphasizes his genius. DeRozan joined JJ Redick and Tommy Alter on their podcast, “The Old Man & The Three” on Thursday, and shared an incredible moment from the 2016 Eastern Conference finals when DeRozan was playing for the Raptors, and LeBron was on the Cavaliers. 

At one point during a game, DeRozan said that one of his teammates forgot the play the Raptors were running, so LeBron just told him what to do. 

“It’s definitely different. I remember for years I always caught so much flack, us being the better team or whatever it was in the Eastern Conference finals, and people not realizing it’s tough to get past this mother—–. I don’t care who you are. To see him come to the West and do the same thing is a testament to his greatness, and his IQ to the game. In ’16 when we went to the Eastern Conference finals, we won Games 3 and 4, and it was like a whole nother mindset clicked for him in those next two games, where it was like ‘it’s closeout.'”

“I remember — I don’t know if I even told nobody other than my close circle — I remember, it was a play we was trying to run and one of our teammates forgot the play, and ‘Bron told him the play. Like it was some crazy s—. We calling a play and he was like, ‘what?’ And Bron told him what our play was. It just shows you how locked in this dude be when it comes to winning time. You see it on both ends man, both ends. That’s just a testament to who he is, why he’s been to 10 Finals, why he’s on the verge of getting his fourth ring, everything. It’s crazy.”

Just unbelievable. Of all the stories about LeBron’s basketball IQ throughout the years, this one is right up there at the top. It’s one thing to remember the game plan and scouting report, but LeBron was so locked in he had the Raptors’ entire playbook down as well, and to the point that he could rattle it off in the middle of a game. 

The Raptors ended up losing that ECF matchup 4-2, and then were also eliminated from the playoffs by LeBron and Co. in each of the next two seasons. And no wonder. It’s hard to beat a better team when they know your plays better than you do. 

In terms of the bigger picture, though, it’s another reminder of LeBron’s greatness, and just how difficult it is to beat him in the postseason. When he says things like, “I have no weakness,” as he did earlier this month, it’s hard to argue when you hear tales like this. 

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