LeBron James is the ultimate WhatsApp motivator. It’s his way of setting the tone before a must-win playoff game. He did it before Game 4 against the Heat, and the Lakers fed off it. He also did it during the ’16 NBA Finals.
Tristan Thompson, a former Cavs teammate of LeBron’s, gave us a peek into Cleveland’s group chat during their historic comeback. He talked about a single text by James that proved to be an initiator of the Cavs making history. It was after their Game 4 loss to the Warriors that LeBron decided to activate his virtual leadership mode, with the sole purpose of keeping the team’s spirit high even when, historically, all the cards were stacked against them. And so, hours after the game, every Cavs’ player received a text.
I know we’re down 3-1, but if you don’t think we can win this series, then don’t get on the fu*kin’ plane.Tristan Thompson, The Herd
The consensus response was something on the lines of ‘hell yeah, we’ll be there,’ with Tristan and J.R. Smith being the loudest among voices. And sure enough, every single one of them got on the plane with the firm belief of making a comeback and rewriting the NBA history books, meaning that LeBron had accomplished everything he wanted when he sent that text.
Three consecutive wins later, the Cavaliers were crowned as the ’16 NBA champions, and the first team in the league history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in NBA Finals. And while it’s a stretch to say that LeBron’s text was the factor for the Cavs making history, it sure was the catalyst of a mentality shift that started a chain reaction which led to LeBron’s iconic block on Iguodala and Kyrie’s legendary shot over Steph Curry to seal the organization’s first-ever NBA title.
This is a great example of leadership by LeBron. There’s something powerful about your best player still being locked in and believing in his group even when the whole NBA world doesn’t anymore. This text was just that – the embodiment of LeBron trusting his guys. And when playing with a guy like that, that’s all the push you need.
With the Heat being down 3-1, perhaps Jimmy Butler should do the same, in what would be the bubble version of WhatsApp motivation. ‘I know we’re down 3-1, but if you don’t think we can win this series, then don’t get on the fu*king Space Mountain.’ It’s worth a try.