The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA championship was a cause for celebration for the players, organization and city, but then-general manager David Griffin was probably more relieved than joyful.
While LeBron James openly shed tears of joy on the court shortly after Game 7 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena, Griffin was sobbing in secret.
Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer revealed how the former Cavs GM handled the city’s first-ever championship:
“Griffin privately wept in an Oakland broom closet. A one-track mind had removed anything but delivering the city’s first championship in 52 years from consciousness.”
The pressures of trying to win a title took its toll on Griffin emotionally and robbed him of the passion for basketball that he once had.
“I didn’t watch the league, and I didn’t love the game anymore,” Griffin said. “I was so fixated on outcome that I just totally lost my joy.”
A year later, in June of 2017, Griffin and Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert failed to reach an agreement on a deal that would have kept him with the organization for the foreseeable future.
Griffin was free to look for opportunities elsewhere but he stayed out of a front-office position for some time. Instead, he found employment as an analyst for NBA TV, which he found to be therapeutic.
“He rediscovered his passion for the game,” Fischer wrote. “An appetite to steer a franchise returned, the lingering bad taste from Cleveland crystalizing Griffin’s ideal next destination.”
In April of this year, Griffin became the executive vice president of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans. He has an opportunity once again to build a title contender with a young core led by rookie Zion Williamson.