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Chip Kelly helped LeBron James win NBA championships

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In honor of the NBA finals starting tonight, ESPN posted a fun column with 23 little-known facts about LeBron James. One of them happens to involve Eagles head coach Chip Kelly:

"Heat coach Erik Spoelstra credits a conversation with then-Oregon Ducks football coach Chip Kelly that same summer as his eureka moment to maximize James and Wade on offense together through a Kelly-like pace-and-space attack."

The Kelly-Spoelstra relationship has been written about before.

"Could a no-huddle spread offense work in the NBA?" The reinvention of the Heat Explosive. Fast. Unpredictable.

Chip Kelly's speedy spread offense was an inspiration for Spoelstra. These are the words that Kelly used to describe the principles behind his signature spread offense that he rode to the BCS National Championship Game in 2011. They're also the same ones often used to describe a Heat team led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

At least, that's what the team is supposed to be. By most accounts, the Heat underachieved both competitively and aesthetically in the Big Three's debut season. Miami didn't smash the record books and played at one of the slowest paces in the NBA in 2010-11. As the one calling the shots, Spoelstra received much of the blame. But rather than deflect the responsibility, the Heat coach went back to the drawing board to find a better model. So he bought a plane ticket to go see Kelly and ask him a simple, yet vexing question:

How exactly do you turn a collection of world-class athletes into a merciless scoring machine?

Kelly's answer made all the sense in the world to Spoelstra. To leverage the team's blinding athleticism, Kelly told him, one must spread the floor, turn up the pace and let it fly. Pace and space are essential.

And so the mantra for the new Heat was born. Under the watch of Pat Riley, the steward of the "Showtime" Lakers in the 1980s, Spoelstra set out to design his very own attack built on speed, versatility and athleticism."

The Heat didn't win their back-to-back championships under after Spoelstra met with Kelly, so it's obvious the Eagles coach deserves all the credit. James' amazing talent may have had to do something with it too. Still, it's pretty cool to see how big of an influence Kelly has had not only on the NFL but on sports in general.

Of course, one big downside to Kelly's influence here is that James is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan...

(hat tip to seedutton on r/Eagles)