J.R Smith.

LeBron James describes his shock when the Knicks traded J.R. Smith to the Cavs

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The Cleveland Cavaliers ended their long and arduous title drought by defeating the Golden State Warriors in dramatic fashion to be crowned the 2016 NBA champions. 

Cleveland doesn't do things the easy way and put their fans through a roller coaster after eventually becoming the only team to ever come back from 3-1 down to claim the Larry O'Brien trophy. 

The journey to get to this point was tough for the city and Northeast Ohio, but because of the manner of the win, some would say it was worth the wait. 

Owner Dan Gilbert and general manager David Griffin committed to pulling out all the stops to finally end the team's long wait for the gold.

Gilbert didn't think twice about forking out $175.6 million on payroll this season, with $65 million of that in luxury taxes. 

When LeBron James agreed to return to his hometown team, he was determined to have the best chance of winning a championship for them and the front office was more than willing to give him the supporting cast he needed to get it done. 

They immediately traded Andrew Wiggins - the number one overall pick in 2014 - for Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves and later in that season they acquired J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov as they reached the Finals in 2015, where they lost to the Warriors. 

2016 NBA Finals - Game Seven

Despite falling short, the Cavs were "all-in" as Gilbert said and they re-signed Love, Smith and Shumpert, whilst giving Tristan Thompson a max deal.

Of all those moves, there is one that stood out for LeBron and excited him; the arrival of J.R. Swish. 

The sharpshooter had floated around the league for many reasons and was known more for his lifestyle and behaviour off the court than on it, but that all changed in Cleveland.

The Wine and Gold were only interested in picking up Shumpert from the Knicks but were told they had to take Smith as part of the package which they didn't hesitate in doing.

2016 NBA Finals - Game Seven

James says he is still shocked that New York parted ways with the 30-year-old with such ease, but is grateful for the Cavaliers' gain.

"Just understand what J.R.'s been through and people just saying that there's no way he can be a winner," James said.

"When our GM came to us last year and said, 'Hey, we've got a deal to get Timofey Mozgov and get Iman Shumpert, and the Knicks are going to throw in J.R.' I was like, 'What? They're going to throw in J.R. into the deal?' And I was like, 'Okay, I've got him. I got him.' 

"And J.R. turned himself into not only a huge boost to our team, but he turned himself into a two-way player, both sides of the floor." 

Swish has spent 12 years in the league and played for three teams but never came close to winning a ring. 

Alongside King James he reached two finals in two years and can now call himself an NBA champion.

In a post-game press conference, Smith broke into tears and thanked his parents for giving him the inspiration to achieve what he never thought he'd be able to do. 

That's another reason why the championship win for the Cavs was more than just basketball.

Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
LeBron James
JR Smith

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