CHICAGO, June 4 (AP) -- His Airness is paying tribute to the kid called King James.

Michael Jordan praised 22-year-old LeBron James for leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory over the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals. The Cavaliers advanced to the finals for the first time in their 37-year history.

"What just transpired was something I felt was needed for the league, was needed for Cleveland, was needed for LeBron,'' Jordan said in Monday editions of the Chicago Tribune.

James dominated Game 5 against Detroit, scoring Cleveland's final 25 points in the win. The Cavaliers became just the third team to overcome an 0-2 deficit to win the conference finals.

Jordan, who won six NBA championships during his 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, said the next challenge for James is to achieve consistency.

"Making 'The Leap' is where you do it every single night,'' Jordan said. "It's expected of you, and you do it. ... Not one game, not two games. It's consistent. Every defense comes in and they focus on you and you still impact the game. I think he's shown signs of that.''

James took a "big step'' forward in the series against Detroit, but the NBA finals against the San Antonio Spurs will provide another huge test, Jordan said.

"This next series is going to say, 'How far do you want to take it?''' said Jordan, speaking from Elkhart Lake, Wis., where his motorcycle team was participating in a racing event.


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