The Game: 2016 Finals, Game 7
The Series Situation: Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors tied, 3-3.
The Play: Rebounding a missed floater by Kyrie Irving with less than two minutes left, Golden State’s Andre Iguodala started the Warriors’ fast break and was about to finish it. He took a bounce pass from Stephen Curry and went up for a layup that would break the 89-89 tie and ignite the Oracle Arena crowd. Except that LeBron James had other ideas, chasing down Iguodala and smacking his attempt against the backboard on the right side of the rim to put the ball back in the Cavaliers’ hands.
The Significance: Neither team had scored since the 4:39 mark and, with Iguodala’s layup rejected, the normally prolific Warriors were done scoring for the night. James, in sprinting back for what became the most memorable of his transition-defense blocks, allegedly reached 20.1 miles per hour and soared 35 inches to snuff the shot. A little credit has to go to J.R. Smith, who took a swipe at the ball and forced Iguodala to alter his planned dunk. From there, it was a time capsule moment for "The King" to keep the Cavs in position to nail down their first NBA title.
Iguodala wound up both as participant and witness. “I'm like, ‘Man, that [block] was so dope to me, too.' I was a fan,” he said months later. “What you want me to do? If you enjoy the game of basketball, you should just be like, 'Dude made a great play.' ”
-- Steve Aschburner
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