Klay Thompson still can't move on from the Golden State Warriors' shocking 2016 NBA Finals defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers. That much is clear as the sharpshooter shared that it's still painful to think about it today.
The Warriors star admitted that he really thought they were going to win it all even when the Cavs erased their 3-1 deficit and forced a Game 7. After all, the Dubs would be playing at home for the do-or-die finale, and it was hard to imagine them falling in Oracle Arena where they lost just twice throughout that season. Golden State broke the all-time regular season record for the best win-loss tally after going 73-9, but it all went for naught come the playoffs.
When asked about the defeat, Thompson revealed that it was one of the most deflating moments of his career. He also never thought the series was slipping from their hands considering the favorable situation they were in.
“Honestly I thought we were good even going back to Oakland [for Game 7]. I remember being like, we don't lose at home. The last time we did it took Kyrie and LeBron going for 40 a piece, the first time in Finals history. So I'm like alright anomalies happen…,” Thompson said on the Podcast P with Paul George Presented by Wave Sports + Entertainment.
The Warriors star couldn't hide his pain, saying: “Why are you making me do this Paul? This hurts man f**k. But I don't know if we don’t win we might not get Kevin [Durant] so like it all worked out but that one hurt. I’m not going to admit when it was slipping away, there's too much pride to do that. It still hurts. You’re welcome city of Cleveland.”
It's understandable where Klay Thompson is coming from here. The Warriors had the chance to be remembered as the best team ever, even better than the 72-10 win 1995-96 Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan. Instead, however, they get the unwanted label of being one of the biggest chokers of all time.
Golden State more than made up for it by winning three more titles after that, including back-to-back rings in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Nonetheless, as Thompson said, the 2016 defeat is always going to hurt.
Klay Thompson, Warriors' epic collapse in 2016 NBA Finals
For those who can no longer remember the Warriors' epic collapse (or for those who choose to simply forget), the Warriors went up 3-1 against the Cavs in the 2016 NBA Finals. They won the first two games of the series, dropped Game 3 but bounced back in the following meeting to put themselves one win away from their second straight championship at the time.
Considering that no team has ever came back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, Klay Thompson and the Warriors' confidence were high. They know exactly how to take down the Cavs, and everyone else (besides the Cleveland faithful of course) were counting out the Wine and Gold at that point.
But while the Warriors won Game 4, they also lost Draymond Green in the contest after he was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul on LeBron James. As a result, Green was suspended the following game due to the accrual of flagrant points.
The Cavs smelled blood and took advantage of the Warriors missing their key defensive piece. The Dubs were never able to bounce back after that despite Green coming back in Game 6, with LeBron and Cleveland seemingly getting into their heads.
One of the most famous moments of the series was LeBron's statement on how he felt the Warriors were out physically and mentally. After forcing a Game 7, James knew they had a chance to complete the comeback.
“Hey, by the way, they f**ked up mentally and physically,” LeBron said in the locker room. “I'm telling you. They f**ked up.”
.@KingJames called it like he saw it after Game 6 of the 2016 Finals.
— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2019
For what it's worth, Green himself expressed regrets over what happened in the 2016 Finals series. He hated the fact that his mistake denied some of his teammates the chance to win a ring in their careers. Aside from that, it was also one of the biggest “What Ifs” of his career.
“It's like the biggest teaser of my life. I had 32, 15 boards and nine assists. And if we win that game I'm finals MVP. But did I really deserve it? Because we never should have been in a Game 7. And if we never get that far, do I then win a finals MVP if we finish it in five?” Green said in the same podcast last July.
It's definitely not the way the Warriors imagined how their 73-9 season would end, but as Klay said, “anomalies happen” and their loss certainly counts as one. Props should be given to the Cavs as well for fighting hard and clawing their way back. Though sure enough, Dubs fans don't want to talk about the epic fail anymore.