Tyronn Lue, LeBron James see parallel in Pats, Cavs titles

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The parallel between the New England Patriots rallying from a 25-point deficit before defeating the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on Sunday and the Cleveland Cavaliers falling down 3-1 in the NBA Finals only to best the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 was not lost on Cavs coach Tyronn Lue.

"Keep believing," Lue said Monday morning before his team's shootaround in preparation for their game against the Washington Wizards. "With the Patriots and our team, we have greats. Having LeBron James on your team, Kyrie [Irving],who is great, and then having a Tom Brady and one of the best coaches of all time in all sports [Bill Belichick], you just got to have that belief. And when you have someone to will you home and will you all the way in, it's tough to beat. And that's what they did last night."

Lue told reporters Saturday he was picking the Pats because of his relationship with Belichick, whom he became familiar with when he was an assistant coach on Doc Rivers' staff with the Boston Celtics.

The Cavs became the first team in league history to bounce back from a 3-1 hole with a title on the line, doing so last season against a Warriors team that set the record for regular-season wins by going 73-9.

"The game ain't over 'til it's over," James said when asked about New England's win. "You got to play the game out, and as a fan watching the game you see the ups and downs. But, you seen the momentum start to change a little bit when they was able to get that first score, so I never counted him out."

What binds the Cavs' performance together with the Pats', according to James?

"It's just perseverance," he said. "That's it. Like I said, you play the game to the end, stick with the game plan and see how it ends."

Sunday's game ended with Brady throwing for a Super Bowl-record 466 yards, winning a record-fourth Super Bowl MVP and his fifth championship ring.

Afterward, James referred to Brady as "the G.O.A.T." (greatest of all time) in a video he posted to his multimedia platform, Uninterrupted, late Sunday night.

James, who described Brady as a "great friend" over the weekend, delved into his relationship with the Patriots' quarterback.

"Just a mutual respect," James said. "When you share some same qualities and common things, then respect automatically kicks in, so, I'm happy for him and it was great to watch.

"I just see greatness in Brady. He's very calm. He's very calm, no matter the situation, no matter the situation, no matter what was going on throughout the game. He's just very calm. Worrying about what the next play was, worrying about making the next completion. Just keeping his guys mentally focused on the job at hand. You've got to have that. You've got to have a sense of calm when everything else and everybody else is erratic, you've got to have a sense of calmness about you as the leader because your troops see that. When they see that, then they feel good about themselves."

For as much reverence Lue has for Belichick, he gave Brady the lion's share of the credit for the win.

"I'm a very big supporter of Belichick, and I think he's one of the greatest of all time in all sports," Lue said. "But last night, he didn't have much to do with that. It was all about Tom Brady. And that's the luxury you have when you have LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who you can just give the ball to and say, 'Listen: Make it happen. Put us on your back.' That's what Tom Brady did last night."

Incidentally, James did not mention his Cavs when he listed the recent spate of thrilling championship outcomes.

"Can y'all just think about the last ... eight months in sports we done had?" James said. "From the [Chicago] Cubs, to Clemson, to Villanova to the Patriots. Wow. It's been an unbelievable chain of sporting events."

The Cubs came back from down 3-1 against the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series. Clemson came back from down 14-0 against Alabama to win the College Football National Championship. Villanova captured the first championship for the school's basketball program in more than 30 years with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against North Carolina.

Lue, however, put the Cavs in the same breath as the Pats.

"It was definitely, it was right there," Lue said. "Being down 3-1 where no team in NBA history has ever come back from in an NBA Finals, and then I think the largest lead [overcome] in a Super Bowl was 10 and they were down 25. And to come back being down 19 to start the fourth quarter, I mean, everyone counted them out. They counted us out the same exact way, and for those guys to come back and win was just unbelievable."

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