In a year with numerous contenders, LeBron James emerged as the 2016 NBA Finals MVP to win the honor for the third time in his career Sunday, as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors, 93-89, in Game 7.
The decision was unanimous:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
LeBron James is the unanimous 2016 NBA Finals MVP. https://t.co/L4XDDXYlaT2016-6-20 02:53:43
James finished with 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds on the night, joining Jerry West and James Worthy as the only players to notch a triple-double in Game 7 of an NBA Finals, per the NBA on ESPN.
James was dominant as he powered his team to a comeback victory in the series. Take a look at his statistics during the Finals:
|LeBron James Per-Game Averages in 2016 NBA Finals|
Cleveland became the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals to win the NBA title.
After the game, an emotional James dedicated the victory to his beloved city in an interview with ESPN's Doris Burke, via Fox Sports.com's Teddy Mitrosilis.
"I set out a goal two years when I came back, to bring a championship to this city," James said. "I gave everything that I had. I poured my heart, my blood, my sweat, my tears into this game. ...
"Cleveland—this is for you!"
While James was sensational on the offensive end of the floor, the defining play of his series-clinching performance may have been his late block on last year's Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, courtesy of the NBA's Twitter account:
LeBron is on another level! #NBAFinals https://t.co/TzTkzwPyld2016-6-20 02:29:42
The play kept the game tied and swung the momentum toward Cleveland. Golden State, the league leader in points this season, did not score again in the game.
ESPN's Bill Plaschke noted the block may be featured prominently in a documentary one day:
Bill Plaschke @BillPlaschke
Ten years from now, the first moments of the 30-for-30 on the life of LeBron James will have a video of that block2016-6-20 02:31:19
Per ESPN Stats & Info, James made even more history by becoming the Finals MVP:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
LeBron James joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in NBA history to win Finals MVP with multiple teams.2016-6-20 02:56:13
James also won the award twice with Miami, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won with the Lakers and Bucks.
He said remaining poised was the key to leading his team down the stretch, per Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin:
Kurt Helin @basketballtalk
LeBron James: "The game always gives back to those who are true to the game... I had to be calm to lead those 14 guys."2016-6-20 03:45:33
NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith and comedian Kevin Hart congratulated James:
Emmitt Smith @EmmittSmith22
Congratulations to @KingJames and the Cleveland Cavaliers on a great championship series2016-6-20 02:59:02
Kevin Hart @KevinHart4real
But @KingJames just did what only the greats can do...He stared all of the doubters in the face including myself & made is presence felt2016-6-20 02:58:22
Stephen Curry may be the two-time reigning regular-season MVP, but Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press noted James is still the top basketball player in the world:
Tim Reynolds @ByTimReynolds
There's no doubt who the best player in the world is. Period. It's LeBron James, and it might stay that way for a while longer.2016-6-20 02:57:49
Winning this series was likely the greatest achievement in James' storied career. He was ostracized from his hometown after leaving for Miami, only to return and bring Cleveland its first professional sports title since 1964.
He undoubtedly deserved the honor after cementing his place among the greatest basketball players of all time.