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Richard Jefferson Says LeBron James Would Still Be in Cleveland If Cavs Didn’t Win 2016 Title
- Updated: April 14, 2020
Monday marked the fourth anniversary of the Warriors’ historic 73rd win of the 2015-16 season, an NBA record total that eclipsed the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ 72 wins.
During a discussion on “The Jump,” host Rachel Nichols asked Jefferson if James would have left the Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers two summers ago if Cleveland had lost to the Warriors in 2016.
Today marks the anniversary of the 2016 Warriors' record setting 73rd win. What if that team had gone on to win the title? @RJeff24, who was on the Cavs team that won instead, and @WindhorstESPN discuss how the whole course of the NBA would have shifted. pic.twitter.com/b4ryedUgLF
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) April 13, 2020
“I think for him (James) it was so, so important to win a championship in Cleveland,” Jefferson said. “He could still possibly be there.
“But I believe that, again, you look at the injuries in the first year with Kyrie [Irving] and Kevin Love, I believe that ultimately, wherever the dominoes would have fallen, I think Cleveland would have won a championship over the course of those four years (that James was playing for the Cavs).”
Nonetheless, Jefferson was not about to play fortune teller and say that he was definite about his answer.
“We’ll never know,” Jefferson added later.
Despite sporting an inferior 57-25 record in 2016, the Cavaliers took the Warriors to a dramatic seventh game where they capped off a historic season of their own.
The Cavs are the only team in league history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals and win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The 2016 title was the Cavs’ first and only championship as a franchise.
Two seasons later, having accomplished his goal of bringing a championship to the city of Cleveland, James went to the Lakers in the 2018 offseason.