After Kyrie Irving and LeBron James both dropped 40-plus points to spur the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Game 5 win, reducing the Golden State Warriors’ lead in the NBA Finals to 3-2, head coach Tyronn Lue strolled into the locker room and made a request: everyone was to give him $100. And not just the players. Many members of the Cavs organization were with the team at Oracle Arena in Oakland, and Lue collected a Benjamin Franklin from everyone, from owner Dan Gilbert to the equipment guys.
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With a total of $4,500 in hand, Lue rolled up the stack of cash and stashed it in the ceiling of the coach’s dressing room in the visiting locker room, not to be touched until the Cavs returned to that same locker room as NBA Champions after winning Game 7. Lue borrowed the trick from Doc Rivers (for whom he was an assistant with the Boston Celtics), and he used it to encourage his players to take Game 6 back in Cleveland so they could return to Oracle and collect their $100.
“They were like, ‘Where is the money going?'” Lue told cleveland.com. “I’m like, ‘It’s going to me and I’m going to wrap it up and put it in the ceiling in the coaches locker room, and we’re going to come back, get our money and get our trophy for Game 7.'”
Most of the Cavs did get their money back from its hiding place in the ceiling, but Lue admits he used some of it to pay off the $25,000 fine he received for criticizing the officials for not giving LeBron James enough calls in Game 4. In fact, LeBron is still waiting for his C-note.
“I’m still looking for my money. I didn’t get mine back,” James said.
They say money is the greatest motivator, and since the Cavs became the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 Finals deficit, it’s hard to argue.