CLEVELAND– Former Cleveland Cavaliers Richard Jefferson reminiscenced about his NBA Finals appearances in a post on the Players’ Tribune Monday morning.
Jefferson announced his retirement in October after 17 years in the league. The news came just weeks after his dad died in a drive-by shooting.
The small forward, who played seven seasons with the Nets, described the importance of New Jersey’s Eastern Conference titles in 2002 and 2003 in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center.
“It still crushes me that we didn’t deliver New Jersey that title in the wake of 9/11,” Jefferson wrote.
It took him 13 years to get back to the NBA Finals. He doesn’t call the experience fun, but said it pushed him past the breaking point of what’s healthy, emphasizing the toll it takes to win a championship.
Jefferson recounts the three big plays in 2016’s Game 7 that will live in Cleveland sports history forever: LeBron James’ chase-down block of Andre Iguodala, Kyrie Irving’s 3-pointer and Kevin Love’s stop on Steph Curry.
“It was like Superman swooping down in the movies. I’m dead serious. It was just a blur. I’ve seen crazy things on an NBA court. All kinds of freakish athleticism. But I’ve never seen anything like that. LeBron broke the laws of physics.
Jefferson ended the piece with a “Thank you” to Ohio, noting some titles mean more than others.
“From time to time, someone will come up to me on the street, or in an airport, and they won’t ask for a selfie. They won’t ask for an autograph. They won’t even want to talk basketball. They’ll just come up and shake my hand and say, ‘Thank. Thank you guys for what you did for us'” Jefferson said. “And I know exactly where they’re from, and I know exactly what they mean.”