The Cleveland Cavaliers’ comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals will always be one of the greatest in sports. The Cavs beat the Golden State Warriors in seven games after being down 3-1, bringing the city of Cleveland its first sports championship in over 50 years.
Even when the series was tied three games apiece, it was never certain that the Cavs would prevail. But LeBron James smelled blood in the water after their 115-101 victory in Game 6. He felt like the Warriors were scuffling. James’ ESPN+ series “More Than An Athlete” brought a camera into the locker room as the Cavs were celebrating their Game 6 win, and caught him telling his teammates that the Warriors were weakened.
.@KingJames called it like he saw it after Game 6 of the 2016 Finals.
— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2019
“They f—ked up. Mentally and physically. I’m telling you, they f—ked up.”
Whether it was true or not, it was the perfect thing to say to a team that had scratched and clawed its way back from almost-certain elimination to be just one win away from a legendary achievement. The Cavs were clearly feeling stupendous about their performance, but a little extra motivational oomph never hurt. Thinking that you may have broken the spirit of your competitor definitely counts as motivational oomph.
And it may have been true. The Warriors were shut out in the first five minutes of Game 6, and the Cavaliers led from start to finish. In Game 7, the Cavs held the Warriors to 89 points, their lowest point total of not just the Finals but of the entire 2016 playoffs.
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