After the Cleveland Cavaliers' thrilling victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, which delivered the Cavs their first-ever NBA championship and ended a 52-year pro sports title drought for the city of Cleveland, ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reported that the Cavs, like the Miami Heat before them, had deployed a replica of the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy as a "secret motivational tool" throughout their run to the title.
[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
Now, thanks to the ever-informative and entertaining Snapchat of reportedly retiring Cavalier swingman Richard Jefferson, as captured by Alysha Tsuji of For the Win, we can lay eyes on the motivational tool that galvanized the troops:
We get an up close look at the Cavaliers puzzle trophy, thanks to Richard Jefferson's Snapchat (rjeff24) pic.twitter.com/zYsoKj3uYb
— Alysha Tsuji (@AlyshaTsuji) June 22, 2016
The story of how the puzzle came together, via Windhorst:
Earlier in the season, veteran James Jones came up with an idea of a rallying point for the Cavs' postseason run. The team would create a puzzle with 16 pieces, one for each win needed to take the title. When put together, it would form the trophy.
"We needed something to bring us together," Jones said. "Every guy was a piece. We assembled this team. So we had to assemble the puzzle." [...]
The trophy puzzle was kept in a case hidden from outsiders and traveled with the Cavs as they made their way through the postseason. Different players who contributed in different ways would place a symbolic piece after every playoff win. For example, Kevin Love was selected when the Cavs won Game 3 of the Finals without him as he frustratingly missed the game with a concussion.
The final piece was in the shape of the state of Ohio and was placed by coach Tyronn Lue as the Cavs poured champagne over one another in the Oracle Arena's visitors locker room.
I always knew that if I covered basketball long enough, we'd get a season finale straight out of "Major League." The NBA is the best, y'all.
More NBA coverage:
- - - - - - -