It’s been nearly three years since the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors to win the 2016 NBA Finals, but the legacy of the Cavs’ historic legacy lives on.
And in case anybody forgot how incredible the Cavs’ comeback from a 3-1 deficit was, new footage is helping serve as a reminder.
Over the past few weeks, ESPN’s “More Than an Athlete” series has taken an inside look at the rise of LeBron James. In the most recent episode, cameras capture the aftermath of Cleveland’s 115-101 Game 6 victory over the Warriors — and in particular, James’ locker room speech.
“They f—ed up,” James said. “Mentally and physically, I’m telling you, they f—ed up.”
There was merit to James’ claim.
Moments earlier, 2-time MVP Stephen Curry had not only fouled out, but proceeded to throw his mouth guard in frustration, striking a fan. Two games prior, All-Star forward Draymond Green got himself suspended for Game 5 after video footage revealed him attempting to strike James in the groin.
At that point, Golden State had taken a 3-1 lead and appeared on the verge of its second straight NBA title. And yet there James was in the Quicken Loans Arena having just posted a 41-point, 11-assist, 8-rebound stat line en route to forcing a winner-take-all Game 7.
Three nights later, the Cavs would defeat the Warriors 93-89 to capture Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years. For his efforts, James earned NBA Finals MVP, with his speech a few nights earlier having proven prophetic.