Richard Jefferson was a first-hand witness when Kyrie Irving knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer in the 2017 NBA Finals.
For most NBA viewers, this was a moment of a lifetime – the crescendo of an improbable comeback. The likes of this achievement were hitherto unseen, and so were the reactions to it.
Irving’s shot is possibly the most consequential one over the past decade of NBA history. Without this resounding shot, Kevin Durant would probably still be with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Irving himself returned to the Finals stage one more time with LeBron James the following year. The series was short, and decisive in favor of possibly the greatest collection of talent in league history.
Despite Irving averaging 29 points per game and James leading the pack with a triple-double average, the Cavs remained no-hopers. This was also Richard Jefferson’s final Finals appearance, and one that he looks back with a touch of irritability.
Richard Jefferson picks Kyrie Irving over Stephen Curry, LeBron James for the final shot
Jefferson knows better than most people how consequential that final shot was. He admits that it has made him biased when talking about players in clutch situations. In his mind, there are few people who could replicate what Kyrie pulled off nearly 5 years ago.
RJ was on the Called Game podcast recently, hosted by John Beecham. The 17-year NBA veteran could not contain himself while praising Kyrie, in response to a question regarding who he’d pick to take a shot to save his life:
“I wouldn’t want to take a shot for my life. I’m gonna give it to– He’s not the best person I’ve ever played, because I played with Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki and Bron and Steph and all these people, but the person that hit the biggest shot that I’ve been part of is Kyrie. And it’s one of the biggest shots in sports history. It’s one of the biggest singular plays in American sports history.”
— Called Game (@CalledGame) April 28, 2021