In 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA Championship, marking the first time in 52 years the city won a major sports championship. In those 2016 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers found themselves down 3-1, one game away from losing the series to the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Looking at the sheer optics of the 3-1 deficit, you would not expect the Cavs to be more inspired than Golden State at that moment. But to the surprise of many, they were.
Where did this jolt of inspiration while facing near-certain elimination come from? It came from Cleveland Cavaliers team captain Lebron James. Former Cavs player Kevin Love told the story of Warriors SG, Klay Thompson after Golden State took a commanding 3-1 series lead. Thompson talked about the Golden State Warriors being the single greatest NBA team of all time and even discussing their championship parade, despite the series not being officially over. Lebron James used that as motivation to propel his team to become only the 2nd team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit. Below is a quote from Lebron’s former Cavs teammate Kevin Love:
“That’s when Bron said, he looked around and said, ‘You know what guys? It’s written. We’re going to win tomorrow night. We’re going to have a huge game. It’s going to be tough. It’s going come down to the last few minutes. We’re not losing at home. Game 7, anything can happen.’ That’s how it played out. It still gives me chills thinking about it.”