LeBron James and Draymond Green had quite the heated matchup in the NBA Finals last season. Green has a knack for getting under a player’s skin on the court, and he seemed to do just that in the NBA Finals as the Warriors looked to be on cruise control for a second straight NBA title against LeBron and the Cavs.
But as we know by now, the Warriors blew the 3-1 lead and James celebrated the long-awaited NBA championship in Cleveland. It turns out, the altercation between Green and James late in Game Four may have been the turning point that swung the series back in Cleveland’s favor.
With Golden State just minutes away from going up 3-1 in the series, Green and James got tangled up with some intensity that nearly led to blows being exchanged before being separated.
Green apparently told James “you’re a bitch,” to which James replied “I’m a father of three and a man.” Green replied “you’re still a bitch.” James wasn’t pleased about the officiating in the game, and neither was head coach Tyrone Lue. In his postgame comments, Lue took aim at the refs and drew a fine from the league. James refrained from going overboard with his comments to avoid being fined, but the message was sent from the coach that he was not giving up on the series. Neither was general manager David Griffin.
Griffin sent an email to the entire team before the team got ready to fly out to the west coast for Game Five with a lengthy explanation of how much he believed in them and reminded the team how hard they had worked to get to where they were at that point. After rattling off a summary of everything the team had accomplished over the past year and a half, Griffin told the team NBA history had chosen the Cavs for this precise moment.
It means more than you have ever dared to imagine, but no more than we have always done. NO TEAM IN NBA HISTORY has ever come back from down 3–1 in the NBA Finals. Rather than asking you the cliché: “Why not us?” I would like to offer the following:
WE HAVE SEEN NBA HISTORY IN THE MAKING EVERYDAY HERE. It’s not “why not us?” It’s “What the [expletive] else would we do?” We love it harder. We love it RECORD-SETTING. You know in your hearts and in your minds we have been the NBA DRAMA KINGS since we came together. I bet you can, and I’d love for you to add to this HISTORICAL DATABASE. What else speaks to you about the RECORD-SETTING insanity that has been YOUR CLEVELAND CAVALIERS!
Let me be the first to tell you, NBA HISTORY HAS BEEN WAITING ON US. No one has done this, because WE have never been here before. We will become the first, because that is all we have ever known how to do.
NBA HISTORY HAS CHOSEN US. Don’t run, don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. WE WILL SEIZE OUR RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THAT HISTORY!
Griffin printed out the entire message and had copies in each player’s locker before one last practice prior to Game 5. History was made, of course. The Cavaliers won the next three games to win the franchise’s first NBA title. Cleveland became Believeland, just as Griffin suggested it could.