California - LeBron
James delivered one of his mightiest all-around performances on Sunday and
the Cleveland Cavaliers completed the greatest comeback in NBA Finals
history, dethroning defending champion Golden State 93-89 to capture
their first league title.
The Cavaliers were the first club to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win
the best-of-seven series, giving Cleveland its first major sports
champion since the 1964 NFL Browns and ending the longest such title
drought for any American city.
"Cleveland, this is for you," a tearful James screamed on the court after the frantic final seconds.
James scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and passed off 11 assists
- only the third "triple double" in a finals seventh game - to take
the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award for the third time in his
career, humbling a Warriors team that won a record 73 regular-season
"We were able to put together some spectacular games down 3-1," James
said. "This is special. I kept that positive attitude. I don't know why
we had to take the hard road. Against all odds."
"King" James made good on the promise he made to his hometown after
returning in 2014 from Miami, the city he left for in 2010 to learn how
to become a champion, leaving behind fans who felt betrayed and some who
burned replica James' jerseys.
"For us to be able to end this drought, our fans deserve it. And it
was for them," James said. "To continue to be an inspiration to our city
James, 3-3 in six consecutive finals appearances, led the series with
29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists a game plus more than two
steals and two blocked shots a game - the greatest all-around numbers
ever produced with a crown on the line.
suffered the worst choke in NBA Finals history after the winningest
campaign in league history. The Warriors had not lost three games in a
row since 2013.
"It sucks. It hurts to lose when you had a 3-1 lead," said Draymond Green, who led the Warriors with 32 points.
"It'll sting me for a while. It's supposed to sting. I'm not over the
loss. I'll probably never be over that. It will sting for a while, but
Only two other clubs down 3-1 in the finals had ever forced a seventh
game, none in 50 years until now. Cleveland was only the fourth road
winner in 19 NBA Finals seventh games, the first since Washington
captured the 1978 title in Seattle.
Kyrie Irving added 26 points, including the crucial 3-pointer with 52
seconds remaining to give Cleveland the lead for good, while J.R. Smith
had 12 points and Kevin Love had nine points and 14 rebounds.
James made three free throws and added a 3-pointer to give the
Cavaliers an 89-87 lead, but Klay Thompson's layup lifted the Warriors
level with 4:39 to play.
The teams each went six possessions without scoring after that,
tension mounting as time and again they thwarted each other until
"It was 89-89 it felt like for three days and it was really only
probably a minute and a half," Smith said. "The way we fought and
everything we worked for and this year was bottled down to a minute and a
half. So we had to buckle down. Fortunately we got stops and Kyrie just
had a hell of a shot."
After another Cavaliers' stop, James was fouled by Green as he tried
for a clinching slam dunk. Instead, he made a free throw to produce the
final margin and the Warriors could only watch the celebration begin.
"It was a hell of a
grind," Irving said. "The odds - it was 92 percent to eight percent.
Vegas said it couldn't be done. Everyone in the world said it couldn't
be done. I'm thankful. I'm truly humbled."
The game featured 20 lead changes and was tied 11 times. Each team
managed its biggest lead in the third quarter, neither ahead by more
than eight after six games where the final margin was in double digits.
"I could never imagine it was going to be this sweet, but it's a great feeling," said Cleveland's Tristan Thompson.
NBA scoring leader Steph Curry had 17 points while fellow Warriors 3-point sharpshooter Thompson managed only 14.
"It stung," Curry said. "It sucked to watch them celebrate and we
wish that would have been us, but at the end of the day, you
congratulate them for accomplishing what they set out to do."
The winner-take-all showdown captured the attention of US President
Barack Obama, who watched the end on Air Force One after returning from a
family trip and tweeted, "What a game and what a series for the cavs.
Happy to see KingJames bring it home for Cleveland!"
Past 10 winners of the NBA Finals:
2016 - Cleveland Cavaliers
2015 - Golden State Warriors
2014 - San Antonio Spurs
2013 - Miami Heat
2012 - Miami Heat
2011 - Dallas Mavericks
2010 - Los Angeles Lakers
2009 - Los Angeles Lakers
2008 - Boston Celtics
2007 - San Antonio Spurs
Past 10 winners of the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award:
2016 - LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
2015 - Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
2014 - Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
2013 - LeBron James, Miami Heat
2012 - LeBron James, Miami Heat
2011 - Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
2010 - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2009 - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2008 - Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
2007 - Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs