Most basketball fans remember or have heard of the famous 3-1 NBA Finals comeback the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers had over the Golden State Warriors. For those that do not remember, Golden State set an NBA record that year with 73 victories during the regular season. And a rematch was set back up for the 2016 NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 NBA Finals 4 games to 2. That is the backdrop for the book “Return of the King” by Brian Windhorst.

“Return of the King” starts out by chronicling the start of LeBron James’ career with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2003-2010. It moves on to the “The Decision” that lead him to the Miami Heat. The book then goes over James’ time with the Heat and the success LeBron had in Miami. This is where the book gets really interesting and starts to get in depth.

Windhorst describes the various steps the Cleveland Cavaliers started to lay down in a potential attempt to lure James back to Cleveland. And the new decision James had to make in regards to his next NBA city. Windhorst goes through all the various stages in the process and for any NBA junkie. This is very interesting and insightful.

After James makes his decision to return to Cleveland, this is where the basketball junkie will really appreciate the book. Windhorst goes into detail over the next two years of what it was like to follow and report on the Cleveland Cavaliers in their journey to the 2016 NBA Championship. Along the way you meet a variety of characters from LeBron James to Kyrie Irving to Kevin Love and two head coaches, David Blatt and Tyronn Lue.

Important Takes Aways from Windhorst’s “Return of the King”

For a basketball fan and coach out there, I feel there are 3 main lessons that can be taken and applied to any team and program:

Importance of Team Building

When LeBron James elected to come back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was important to try to assemble a team around his particular strengths. While at the high school level, we cannot necessarily go out and find a LeBron James and then sign free agents to fill in the needs.

What we can learn from this is adapting our coaching style to fit the needs of our team. If one year we have great guards, we need to build our offensive and defensive principles around those great guards. If one year we have great post players, we need to adjust accordingly.

Importance of Holding Players Accountable

Over those first two seasons when LeBron James came back to Cleveland he had two coaches: David Blatt and Tyronn Lue. Windhorst really pushed forward the notion that the second coach, Tyronn Lue, did a much better job at holding his players accountable. Lue did not give special privileges to anyone, especially James who is arguably one of the three greatest NBA players of all time.

As a coach, it is important to see all of your players holding all your players accountable. And not just those players at the end of the bench. The entire team saw that Coach Lue was going to hold LeBron accountable and that really made an impact on the whole team.

Importance of the Power of Belief

It would have been very easy for the Cleveland Cavaliers to bow out and give up on their 2016 NBA Championship hopes. Especially after being down 3-1 to a 73-win Golden State Warriors team that just beat them 4-2 in the previous NBA Finals. Many people would not have faulted them for doing that. Many would have applauded their efforts on a great regular season and pretty dominant run to the NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Cavaliers kept believing they could win.

There are two cool stories from both David Griffin (Cavaliers General Manager at the time) and the power of an email he sent the ENTIRE Cavaliers organization, not just the basketball side. And Coach Lue and his motivation of getting the Cavaliers back to Oakland after their game five victory. Both of these stories show the importance of believing in your cause and keeping a united front.

This book is a breezy 250 pages. It’s one that is a page turner to see what happens next with this iteration of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the career of Lebron James.

The book can be found at your local library or by clicking on this link!

Kyle Brasher | Gibson Southern High School
Lady Titans Basketball Coach

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