A Brief History
On June 19, 2016, basketball fans across the world watched as the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship for the first time in their history in a decisive Game 7 that pundits are calling the “Greatest Game 7 in NBA History.” Lebron James led the Cavs with only the third triple double in NBA Finals Game 7 history, tossing in 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocked shots on his way to earning the 2016 Finals MVP award.
Cleveland History took a leap into the present with the first major league sports championship for a Cleveland team since the Browns won the NFL Championship on December 27, 1964, a nearly 52 year dry spell. (Of course, the AHL Lake Erie Monsters also won the Calder Cup Championship this year, but that is a minor league.) Cleveland did celebrate their native son, Stipe Miocic, winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship this year, and the Cleveland Indians are currently in first place, so there is a definite trend developing in Cleveland sports.
The Game 7 score of 93-89 Cavaliers over last year’s champs, the Golden State Warriors came in a rematch of last year’s Finals matchup in which the Steph Curry led Warriors won 4 games to 2 over an injury depleted Cavs team. Curry, the 2015-2016 season NBA MVP was thoroughly outplayed by Lebron James in the Finals, with Lebron leading all players in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots during the Championship series, an individual performance that may be the greatest in NBA Finals history.
Down 3 games to 1, the Cavaliers came back to win the final 3 games of the Championship Series for the first time in NBA history, defying odds makers that had predicted the Warriors to win Game 7 by 5 points. The Warriors had an historic season prior to the playoffs, winning an NBA all time record 73 games and with Steph Curry tossing in an NBA record 402 three point shots. Lebron James tied the NBA record for reaching the Finals 6 years in a row, and the record as Finals MVP (3 times). Cavs coach Tyron Lue became the 4th youngest coach ever to win an NBA Championship, and amazingly he did it after taking over the team midway through the season.
Among those calling the deciding game the “Greatest Game 7 ever” include Complex Sports, The Columbia Daily Herald, The New York Daily News, and USA Today. Some preferred to refer to the Cavaliers’ historic comeback as the collapse of the Warriors, but that is seriously demeaning to the superhuman effort put forth by both teams. According to The Plain Dealer, the game was the most watched NBA Finals since 1998 and “the highest-rated NBA game ever to air on ABC.” The 7th and deciding game followed the first 6 games after which both teams had scored the exact same amount of points, another historic event. Unlike those first 6 games in which each game was decided by 11 or more points, Game 7 was a nailbiter with lead changes and ties throughout the game. By the 3rd quarter there was no doubt the game would go down to the wire.
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you agree that this game was the greatest NBA Finals Game 7 ever? Let us know what you think in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
McMenamin, Dave and Brian Windhorst. Return of the King: LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Greatest Comeback in NBA History. Grand Central Publishing, 2017.