jr smith
J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after a play in the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason Miller/Getty Images


  • J.R. Smith fondly recalls on winning the 2016 NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Smith is not too happy about facing the Golden State Warriors and Kevin Durant
  • Durant joined the Warriors in a highly-controversial move in the 2017 offseason

The NBA landscape is currently in the era of superstars linking up under one franchise to better their chances of winning a title.

While it was not entirely unheard of then, the 2016-17 season is viewed by many as the year that broke the league.

As a quick refresher, that offseason saw the Golden State Warriors add then-free agent Kevin Durant to a core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green–effectively stacking the deck in their favor.

While many were frustrated with Durant signing a two-year, $54.3 million deal, the Warriors were well within their rights to go after him after blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 Finals.

The 2016 Finals is viewed by many fans as the best seven-game showdown in the NBA's history and Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith looks back on it fondly.

"Winning that championship was something that will forever be in the history of basketball, but especially in the history of Cleveland, especially in the fashion that we did," Smith said in an interview with Hoops Hype's Michael Scotto.

The city of Cleveland had not felt the taste of a championship in any of the major US sports since 1964 and for the LeBron James-led Cavaliers to be the only team in NBA history to win it all from a 3-1 deficit was the stuff of legends.

But with Durant in San Francisco, optimism of a repeat for the Cavaliers died out as soon as Durant himself broke the news of his signing in a self-penned piece on the Players' Tribune.

Many believed that the Cavaliers would still be able to put up a fight against the super-powered Warriors should they meet in the 2017 Finals, which they did, though they were simply too much of a force to compete against and fell in five games.

"When that happened, everybody was pretty much playing for second. Don't get me wrong, in the heat of the battle, we're thinking, we have a chance, and we can win," Smith told Scotto.

"But at the same time, it's like, 'What the hell are we supposed to do?' You've got three Hall of Famers [on the Warriors], legit. What are you going to do?"

For added context, Durant took home Finals MVP honors with averages of 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks plus a steal while shooting at 55.6% from the field and 47.4% from three.

The Cavaliers would go on to be swept by the Durant-led Warriors in the 2018 Finals and kickstarted the rebuild for the franchise as James would leave for the Los Angeles Lakers–a non-storybook ending to one of the greatest accomplishments in pro sports.

Kevin Durant Golden State Warriors
After being named the 2017 NBA Finals MVP at ORACLE Arena on June 12, 2017 in Oakland, California, Kevin Durant might win the 2018 NBA MVP award. Getty Images