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LeBron James finally secured a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night, delivering on his promise to bring home a title to Cleveland.
And while James surely didn’t need any extra motivation to win a title, he admitted that there was a little more fuel in the tank than normal since returning to Cleveland in 2014.
In last year’s NBA Finals, when the Cavaliers tied the series at 1-1, James told reporters that he had “some other motivation” he would talk about only if the Cavs won. Of course, the Cavaliers lost that series, and James refused to talk anymore about the subject.
Now, having won a championship with the Cavs, LeBron finally opened up on his secret motivation to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst after Game 7. James revealed that the motivation stemmed from some unsupportive words from people within the Miami Heat organization:
“When I decided to leave Miami – I’m not going to name any names, I can’t do that – but there were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career.
“And that s— hurt me. And I know it was an emotional time that they told me that because I was leaving. They just told me it was the biggest mistake I was making in my career. And that right there was my motivation.”
McMenamin and Windhorst note that James appears to be referring to Heat president Pat Riley, who made a reference about “smiling faces with hidden agendas” when James left the team.
LeBron added: “I knew what I was doing. I knew what I was doing and I mean, tonight is a product of it.”
After his highly criticized move to Miami from Cleveland in 2010, James’ return in 2014 was mostly met with positive press. What seemingly got lost in the fold, however, is that members of the Heat organization felt scorned by James leaving after four straight Finals appearances.
James surely still has plenty of motivation to win another title, but at the very least, he seems vindicated for his stunning move to return to the Cavs.