LeBron James brought a championship to Cleveland. That accomplishment will be a featured part of his biography long after retirement as one of the best players in NBA history. With that as the backdrop, Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin of ESPN have penned Return of the King: Lebron James, The Cleveland Cavaliers and The Greatest Comeback in NBA History, which chronicles LeBron’s return to his hometown team through the end of the magical 2016 campaign.
While there are many details to pour through even within a recently released excerpt, one that jumps off the page comes in the form of a now well-publicized letter penned by Cavs GM David Griffin. The letter was sent to the entire organization after Cleveland fell into a 3-1 hole against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals and, if not for an historic comeback, there seems to be a likelihood that the text never would have seen the light of day beyond the franchise’s walls.
However, the Cavs did pull off the impossible and Griffin’s letter certainly provided some motivation. The full text can be found here but the closer encapsulates Griffin’s message to both the team and hundreds of outside employees:
So, what does all this mean? 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!
Beyond the letter, the book takes a glance back at the feud between James and Draymond Green during the series, including the fact that James cited his status as a “father of three and a man” after Green famously went after him on the floor with pointed language. In short, the entire thing is worth a read and the notion that Griffin sent the letter seen above to hundreds of people in the dead of night is the stuff that quickly becomes legendary in the aftermath of one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
It will be very hard for James and his teammates to top what transpired last June and, given the holes they have displayed in recent days, Cleveland’s path back to the NBA Finals isn’t necessarily clear. What is crystal clear, though, is the path they paved against the Warriors with three straight wins will never overgrow.