LeBron James: Cavaliers' 2016 Title Win vs. Warriors Made Me the GOAT 'in All Facets'

Erin WalshFebruary 21, 2022

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 19: LeBron James #6 of Team LeBron walks onto the court during NBA All Star Practice as part of 2022 NBA All Star Weekend on Friday, February 19, 2022 at Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James believes one moment solidified him as the greatest basketball player of all time.

James sat down with TNT's Kenny Smith before the 2022 NBA All-Star Game and was asked what makes a player the greatest of all time. He said he knew he was the "GOAT" when he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title in 2016. 


"At that moment I was like I'm the greatest basketball player people have ever seen. ... Doing something that's never been done in the history of the sport." 🐐 <a href="https://twitter.com/KingJames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KingJames</a> sits down with <a href="https://twitter.com/TheJetOnTNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheJetonTNT</a> to discuss what makes a GOAT <a href="https://t.co/KcbU4HfPuU">pic.twitter.com/KcbU4HfPuU</a>

This isn't the first time James has expressed this sentiment. On More Than an Athlete in 2018, he said defeating the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Finals made him the greatest to ever do it.

"That's probably one of the only times in my career I felt like, 'Oh s--t, like, you did something special,'" James said.

UNINTERRUPTED @uninterrupted

What <a href="https://twitter.com/KingJames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kingjames</a> considers being the GOAT 🐐 ⁣<br>⁣<br>New episode of More Than An Athlete out on <a href="https://twitter.com/espn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@espn</a>+. <a href="https://t.co/7XSQ2GpOVo">pic.twitter.com/7XSQ2GpOVo</a>

James and the Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Warriors in seven games for the first title in franchise history. They accomplished the feat against a Golden State team that set the record for regular-season wins with 73.

Of his four championships, the 2016 Finals was one of James' most memorable. He averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor and 37.1 percent from deep.

After going down 3-1 in the series, James put on a show in Game 5, scoring 41 points to preserve the Cavs' title hopes. Kyrie Irving also scored 41 points to help Cleveland stay alive for Game 6.

James put up 41 points again in Game 6 to force Game 7, where he finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to help Cleveland secure the title. 

The 37-year-old is in the 19th season of a Hall of Fame career. While his Lakers are struggling at ninth in the Western Conference, he's having one of his best statistical seasons.

James is averaging 29.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists while shooting 52.2 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from deep in 41 games. He hasn't averaged at least 29 points since the 2009-10 season. 

While many continue to argue that Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time, the debate likely won't be settled until James' career comes to a close.