LeBron admits he would’ve gone off on refs if they had ruled his iconic Finals block as goaltending

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Former Cleveland Cavaliers and current Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said that he might have been kicked out of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals if a goaltending call had been made when he blocked Andre Iguodala late in the fourth quarter.

“All I’m telling myself, I’m like, ‘Swish (J.R. Smith), do not foul him,’” James said. “So, you could ask any of my teammates throughout the course of my career or throughout the course of that season, any time that you see me trailing the play, all I need is a little adjustment from the offensive player and I promise you, I’ll track it down. Do not f—— foul.

“Do not f—— foul. I told the guys all year, ‘If you see me hauling ass, just make him — instead of just going in for a layup — make him change it a little bit, just a little bit.’ And Swish gets a lot of s— today because of the blunder he had the following year – or two years later whenever the f— it was – not understanding the time and score, whatever the case may be. He executed that s— to perfection. He made Iggy change his shot just a little bit, and that’s all I asked.

“I went up with both hands too, by the way. I was ready for the reverse or the strong side. And I was like, ‘If these f—— refs call goaltend, I might get kicked out of this most important game of my life’ because it was still over two minutes and you couldn’t review back then unless it was under two minutes — ‘cause I knew I had got it clean. That’s all I was saying to myself.”

James’ block of Iguodala is one of the greatest defensive plays in NBA history, and it helped the Cavs seal their comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to win the 2016 NBA Finals.

While the four-time champion may have been worried about a goaltending call at the time, it appears that he didn’t need to be.

According to the play-by-play from Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, James’ block occurred with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, which means it would have been reviewable under the NBA’s rules from that season. As James mentioned, officials could only review goaltending calls if they were unsure inside the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime.

Still, it’s amazing to hear James’ thought process during the play, as the block — which kept the game tied at 89 apiece — helped propel the Cavs to their first title in franchise history.

Guard Kyrie Irving would go on to hit a clutch 3-point shot to give the Cavs a 92-89 lead that they never relinquished.

James finished Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals with 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, two steals and three blocks. His performance in that series will go down in Cavs history as one of the greatest individual showings of all time.

In the seven-game series, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks in 41.7 minutes per game.

He was able to win the third Finals MVP award of his career in 2016 and led the Cavs to two more Finals appearances before joining the Lakers in 2018.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.