The 2016 NBA Finals was the championship series of the 2016 playoffs of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the conclusion of the 2015–16 season. The Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors 4–3 in a rematch of the 2015 NBA Finals, which Golden State won. It was the 14th rematch of the previous NBA Finals in history, and the first Finals since 2008 in which the number one seed in each conference met. It was the second straight rematch in back-to-back years, as the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs played each other in 2013 and 2014.
Golden State, which owned home-court advantage, jumped to a 2–0 lead in the series while recording the largest combined margin of victory (48) through two games in NBA Finals history. Cleveland returned home and responded with a 120–90 win in Game 3, but the Warriors won Game 4 to take a commanding lead. However, the Cavaliers won the next three games to become the first team in Finals history to successfully overcome a 3–1 deficit. The win by the Cavaliers was the first major professional sports championship won by a team based in Cleveland since 1964, and the first-ever championship won by the Cavaliers franchise.
For the first time since 2004, a new scheduling format was instituted for the Finals. In previous years, the Finals was played in a Thursday–Sunday–Tuesday scheme. However, the league changed its scheduling to ensure an extra day off for both teams, which have to travel from one city to another during the duration of the series. This, along with the designated travel day, took place after Games 2, 4, 5, and 6. 2016 also marked the first time since 1978 that Game 7 was won by the road team.
LeBron Raymone James (//; born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has started at the small forward and power forward positions. James has won two NBA championships (2012, 2013), four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013), two NBA Finals MVP Awards (2012, 2013), two Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012), an NBA scoring title (2008), and the NBA Rookie of the Year Award (2004). He has also been selected to 12 NBA All-Star teams, 11 All-NBA teams, and six All-Defensive teams, and is the Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer.
James played high school basketball at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar. After graduating, he was selected with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft by the Cavaliers. James led Cleveland to the franchise's first Finals appearance in 2007, losing to the San Antonio Spurs. In 2010, he left the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in a highly publicized ESPN special titled The Decision. James played four seasons for the Heat, reaching the Finals all four years and winning back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. In 2013, he led Miami on a 27-game winning streak, the third longest in league history. Following his final season with the Heat, James opted out of his contract and re-joined the Cavaliers. Behind his leadership, Cleveland advanced to the Finals before losing to the Golden State Warriors.
Off the court, James has accumulated considerable wealth and fame from numerous endorsement deals. His public life has been the subject of much scrutiny, and he has been ranked as one of America's most influential and popular athletes. He has been featured in books, documentaries, and television commercials, has hosted the ESPY Awards and Saturday Night Live, and starred in the 2015 film Trainwreck.
Kyrie Andrew Irving (born March 23, 1992) is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Irving was born in Melbourne, Australia, but grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. He played collegiately at Duke University before being selected with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Cavaliers. Since being in the NBA, Irving has achieved a number of accolades including being the 2011–12 NBA Rookie of the Year and the 2014 NBA All-Star game MVP.