Top 10 of The Decade: #6
6. Cavs 3-1 comeback against the 73-9 Warriors in the 2016 finals.
“It’s a man’s league. I guess his feelings just got hurt.”
These were the famous post-game words uttered by Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson after Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals, referring to LeBron James reacting after Draymond Green swung at James’ groin. The Warriors were riding high after taking a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers, just one game away from capping off their legendary 73-win season with a 2nd championship. The storylines were writing themselves: the 2016 Warriors were the greatest team of all time, and LeBron James couldn’t bring the big one home to the city of Cleveland.
However, as every sports fan knows, it’s not over until it’s over. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving exploded in Game 5, with both players scoring 41 points apiece in a 112-97 Cavaliers victory that stunned the crowd at Oracle Arena. But it was just one game, right? After all, this Warriors team unstoppable, and LeBron just didn’t have what it takes. That is, until LeBron dropped 41 points again in a 115-101 victory, ending in Warriors point guard Stephen Curry fouling out and launching his mouthguard at a fan. It was all going back to Oracle Arena in California for Game 7, and there was a surprising lack of snide comments from Warriors players leading up to the game. Collars getting tight around their neck?
Game 7 was one for the ages. The match was a dogfight, with 20 lead changes between the teams. The Warriors seemed to start to pull away at halftime with a 49-42 lead, until Cavaliers shooting guard JR Smith came into the second half with back-to-back 3’s to tighten the game up. The score went back and forth until the final 2 minutes, when the Cavaliers’s Big 3 of James, Irving, and forward Kevin Love each had a massive play that will forever go down in Cleveland lore.
Tied at 89-all, LeBron James had the greatest block in NBA history, chasing Andre Iguodala across the court and stuffing Iguodala’s fast-break layup attempt. Next, Kyrie Irving caught Curry with his hand down and splashed a 3 over Curry to take a 92-89 lead. Finally with 30 seconds left, Kevin Love got switched onto Curry and proceeded to lock him down, causing Curry to throw up a brick. The Cavaliers got the rebound, LeBron iced the game with a free throw, and when the clock hit zero, LeBron James and the city of Cleveland were champions once again. 52 years of heartbreak wiped out, toppling perhaps the most arrogant team of all time, and coming back from a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in the history of the NBA Finals. After that series, basketball fans around the country had no choice to agree that LeBron James was truly the King, and the city of Cleveland could finally celebrate once again.