The Cleveland Cavaliers erased a 3-1 series deficit against the 73-win Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, as LeBron James led the team to its first championship in franchise history.
Cleveland forced a winner-take-all seventh contest after an easy and dominant 115-101 victory in Game 6. A recent episode of ESPN's More Than An Athlete series also shared what James had to say about the defending champion Warriors, following Cleveland's Game 6 victory.
"They (expletive) up. Mentally and physically. I'm telling you, they (expletive) up," James said in post-game locker room meeting.
The Cavaliers would then close out the series with a thrilling 93-89 victory, giving the city of Cleveland its first NBA Championship in 52 years. James had finally delivered on his promise to win a title for his hometown team.
.@KingJames called it like he saw it after Game 6 of the 2016 Finals.— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2019
On ESPN+, “More Than An Athlete" takes you inside the Cavs locker room after the crucial game. https://t.co/8vE9wIaUfr pic.twitter.com/KLgQQ2Mnjy
The loss was absolutely devastating for the defending champion Warriors, who had broken multiple records during the 2015-16 season. None stood out more than their 73 regular season wins, which broke the record of 72 set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
After the thrilling 2016 NBA Finals, the Warriors would land MVP and perennial All-Star Kevin Durant, and the rest is history. Golden State easily crushed Cleveland in the 2017 and 2018 Finals to become a dynasty, and James left the Cavaliers this past summer to sign with the Lakers.
But James changed his legacy forever after rallying his team from a 3-1 deficit to take down the most dominant regular season team in history. Even though the Warriors have three titles in four years to brag about, they simply botched the chance of becoming the greatest NBA team of all-time. Period.
What This Means
There will be a lot of things that shape up LeBron's legacy when he eventually retires, but his career-defining moment was undoubtedly Games 5, 6 and 7 against the 73- win Warriors.
These comments are sure to draw the ire of the Warriors, but they might get a chance to silence LeBron once again when they meet again on Jan. 21.