The 2016 NBA Finals is one of the all-time great series in NBA history, given the drama, the stakes, and the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers winning after being down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors.
Game 7 of that series is an all-time classic with a pair of iconic moments in playoff history packed into the last two minutes of the game. The first was LeBron James’ chasedown block of Andre Iguodala, which remains one of the most incredible defensive plays in NBA history. The other was Kyrie Irving’s game-winning three-pointer as he faded away on the right wing.
A lot of NBA fans have vivid memories of watching that game, but Richard Jefferson has as unique a perspective on that sequence as anyone, as he was on the bench near the basket for James’ block and then on the floor for Irving’s game-winner. Jefferson recently sat down with The Players’ Tribune and recounted the end of that game from what he saw, with some hilarious anecdotes (and raw language) of his thought process as he watched both of those plays happen.
Jefferson’s reaction on the bench to James’ block was basically the same as everyone in the arena and watching on television, but the real gold is him talking about being on the floor for Irving’s shot. Him admitting he was thrilled when LeBron cleared him out to the weakside corner so he didn’t have to be involved in the play is fantastic, as is him saying he was planning on doing all these things to get ready for a rebound, only to end up getting caught staring as Irving hit the shot.
Jefferson has long been one of the league’s great personalities, which has led to him joining the Nets broadcast this season, but even still this is a refreshingly honest look at how someone in his role viewed those plays by his star teammates. It truly is one of those “NBA players, they’re just like us!” moments, because even when he was on the court, Jefferson couldn’t help but watch and marvel at the work of LeBron and Kyrie.