"They f---ed up. Mentally and physically," the athlete said after Game 6 of the 2016 Finals in new footage

By Jason Duaine Hahn
January 03, 2019 02:46 PM
Credit: Elsa/Getty; Kevin Winter/Getty

While LeBron James may have recently added fuel to the debate over whether he’s the greatest NBA player of all time, there’s no argument that his comeback victory against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals is one of the most spectacular feats in modern sports. And James says he knew the moment his Cleveland Cavaliers were on the brink of achieving the improbable.

During Game 6 of the 2016 Finals, James and the Cavaliers pulled out a 115–101 victory over the defending champion Warriors to push the series to a decisive Game 7. It was something most fans never expected to happen, but the Cavs had successfully fended off elimination for two straight games after falling into a 3-1 hole in the series.

Cameras were on hand to capture the team’s celebration in the locker room, and footage — revealed for the first time on James’ ESPN+ series “More Than An Athlete” this week — shows coach Tyronn Lou addressing the players before “The King” steps in to motivate his teammates to finish the job in Game 7.

“They f—ed up,” James, 34, said of the Warriors — who earned a 73-9 record during the regular season, the best in NBA history. “Mentally and physically. I’m telling you, they f—ed up.”

With Game 7 being played at the Warriors’ home court, and the odds working against Cleveland — no team in the league had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals — it was not a foregone conclusion by any means. Especially with a slew of All-Star players like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Cavaliers had their work cut out for them.

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four
LeBron James and J.R. Smith
| Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty

But James and the team would go on to win Game 7 in dramatic fashion, earning the Cavaliers’ first-ever championship in franchise history.

During the ESPN episode, James — who is now with the Los Angeles Lakers — also revealed that he believes he is the “greatest player of all time” for the manner in which the Cavs won the 2016 championship.

One person who isn’t worrying about that title? Michael Jordan, who once said he “cringes a little bit” when he is called the GOAT.