The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will clash in the NBA Finals tonight for the fourth straight year.
To get to that point, it took a plucky effort from LeBron James and a team most people counted out after falling behind 0-2 in a best-of-seven series against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Instead, James and Co. rallied to victory in an emotional Game 7 at the TD Garden.
Watching from afar, Browns coach Hue Jackson was moved by how James — a three-time NBA Champion and four-time MVP — spoke of teamwork despite a superhuman effort to lift the club back to basketball's biggest stage. He sees it as a lesson for his own team.
"I was able to show them LeBron's message to the media in Game 7 when he talked about team. I thought it was tremendous," Jackson said Wednesday following an OTA practice.
"I thought what he said about his other teammates and how they are a huge part of it and how people who have not played the game or wore shorts or been or been in a locker room understand what it takes to win. I thought that was sensational. I said that to our football team."
Browns starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who enters his first season in Cleveland following three in Buffalo, echoed a similar sentiment about James and the importance of bringing a group together toward a common goal.
"He's never selfish about his accomplishments. He realizes that it takes a team for him to be the person that he is," said Taylor, who's tasked with leading a young offense next season. "He appreciates his teammates. How that can relate to us is that not one person's bigger than the team. We're going to need each and every person on the team healthy, first and foremost, but doing the right job to be able to execute and go win games week in and week out."
Coming off the franchise's first winless season, the Browns are hoping to bounce back with a new-look roster that's building a rapport toward the end of offseason workouts.
Jackson, entering his third year as head coach, has pointed to the Cavaliers' success as a model for what they hope to achieve in the not-so-distant future. And on Thursday night, they'll be rooting for the home team.
"I want to take my hat off again to the Cavs for going back to the finals and LeBron doing everything that he's done to get them back," Jackson said, "and the team getting back there. We all will be pulling for him. Every last one of us will be pulling for them."