One of the most, if not the most epic, NBA comebacks in the history of The Association happened in the 2016 Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs were on their knees, trailing 1-3 and with slim chances to win the chip. However, little by little, the Cavs climbed their way in those Finals. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving exploded in Game 5, as they each scored 41 points.
In the next game, James rose to the occasion once more with a historical performance of 41 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds. Irving added 23 points, and Tristan Thompson recorded 16 rebounds as Cleveland tied the series. Then we all know what happened in Game 7. In the closing minutes of the 4th quarter, LeBron brought out “The Block” on a layup attempt by Andre Iguodala. Irving made a step-back three over Curry, and the Cavaliers eventually closed out the game.
But many neutral fans and NBA analysts said that the refereeing wasn’t as balanced as it should be. The Cavs were doing everything they could to stop Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, and it worked. Speaking with Omar Raja, Richard Jefferson admitted that he and his teammates tried to be as physical as possible with Curry.
“We were laughing and joking because we could hit Steph. He would be running around, and you could do some stuff. And I remember one time at a video session Ty Lue says that I got to be here on the nail. And I said that I knew that, but Steph was running through, and I left the nail and hip-checked him. After that, we were at the dinner, and Steph was like, ‘You are the reason why I got thrown out, that hurt.‘ And I was laughing. So when I told Lue that, he was like, ‘Okay, that’s fine, but in any other situation you have to be on the nail.‘ So you got to bring that grit, Steph is running through, so you have to go old NBA, just body check him. Don’t do anything illegal, but let him feel you, that he knows you’re there. That was the only way you could try and slow him down”Richard Jefferson, Highlights with Omar
Many people will agree that these tactics were the only way to stop that Golden State team. Jefferson and his teammates eventually got away with it and won the championship, but the Warriors got their revenge the season after.