My favorite quote to come out of a post-Finals coronation that was full of good ones came from Cavaliers GM David Griffin. Here’s what he had to say to ESPN’s Zach Lowe right after his team’s Game 7 victory:
“This team did not fit particularly well for playing Golden State, and that’s my fault,” Griffin said. “But against the East, we were historically good. Now that we’ve experienced this, I’m very confident this group has its best basketball in front of it. They know what they have now.”
Putting together a roster that doesn’t matchup well with Golden State is no great shame—nobody was mad at Alderaan for not putting up more of a fight against the Death Star, you know?—but Griffin admitting that he put an overmatched team on the floor is refreshingly candid. It’s revealing, too, in terms of what it tells us about LeBron James.
Any GM who wants to win a championship in the NBA is faced with a set of questions that have no good answers. How do you acquire and keep a superstar? How do you construct a well-rounded roster under the constraints of the salary cap? How do you assemble a core group of stars that truly compliment each other? There are only two good answers to those questions, and the first is, “Be incredibly lucky.” The second is, “Have LeBron James on your team.”
LeBron’s status as a skeleton key to NBA success was well established before these Finals even started—six consecutive trips to the Finals will do that—but he and the Cavs faced an even more impossible series of questions during those seven games against the Warriors. How do you come back from a 3-1 series deficit? How do you beat a 73-win juggernaut three times in a row? How do you win a tied Game 7, on the road, when there are under two minutes left and everyone on the court is utterly exhausted? Answer:
I, like many others, haven’t been able to stop thinking about that block. I’m obsessed with it. It’s been playing in my mind over and over again ever since I saw it, and I can’t help but imagine that it was running through Griffin’s mind when he gave that quote to Lowe. It was probably still in there when he went on to say this:
“We’re really built for sustaining what we do,” Griffin said. “And LeBron — he makes everyone better. He makes our team bigger than life.”
“He makes our team bigger than life” doesn’t make any sense at all, but it’s exactly the kind of thing I’d expect to come out of the mouth of a man who has been made delirious by his own good fortune. David Griffin is now a GM with a championship ring, despite the fact that he didn’t have any good answers to the questions that will continue to vex him and every other GM in the league for years to come. He had LeBron James, though, and that was enough.