The 2016 NBA Finals changed the course of the league for years moving forward. The Cavs overcame a 3-1 deficit against the 73-win Warriors for the greatest comeback in NBA history, but more important was what that championship set up.
The Warriors responded to blowing a 3-1 lead by signing Kevin Durant and becoming a juggernaut that’s yet to be stopped in a postseason series. LeBron, having fulfilled his promise to bring a title to Cleveland, felt comfortable choosing Los Angeles this past summer over Cleveland and sent the Cavs into an immediate rebuild after making four straight Finals appearances.
For many, the former is a more egregious response to the series than the latter, and many wish there had been a more “legitimate” rematch in 2017. Among those who feel that way is Richard Jefferson, the current Nets color commentator and former Cavs forward who was a member of the 2016 and 2017 squads that made the Finals. Jefferson was back in Cleveland on Sunday as the Cavs celebrated the retirement of Channing Frye, and Jefferson joined the broadcast and made some comments about the Warriors running to get “big brother” in Durant after that series, ruining the chance to run it back next year with the same crews, tied 1-1.
This is a criticism that many, particularly in Cleveland, have offered against the Warriors, although Jefferson equating it to “the streets” didn’t exactly sit well with all parties. That was the line Durant chose to focus on in his response in some Instagram comments on a post of the clip.
Durant has never been fond of the criticism he’s received for signing in Golden State or the lack of respect he feels he’s gotten for his contributions, so him responding in this way can’t be that much of a surprise. Still, for many, Jefferson’s point is valid, and many wish we’d seen the rematch between the same core groups in 2017, but that wasn’t to be the case, and the result has been a dominant dynasty with no peers since Durant joined.
UPDATE: Jefferson replied to Durant’s comment and addressed an awful lot, from Durant’s frustration with always being a topic of conversation to his upbringing with a single mother.