Cavaliers inspired by replica NBA Finals trophy cut into puzzle

ByBrian Windhorst ESPN logo
Monday, June 20, 2016

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Cavaliers had two trophies in their locker room Sunday night: the Larry O'Brien Trophy and a replica of it that served as a secret motivational tool throughout Cleveland's run to an NBA title.

Earlier in the season, veteran James Jones came up with an idea of a rallying point for the Cavs' postseason run. The team would create a puzzle with 16 pieces, one for each win needed to take the title. When put together, it would form the trophy.

"We needed something to bring us together," Jones said. "Every guy was a piece. We assembled this team. So we had to assemble the puzzle."

The golden puzzle was kept quiet by players and coaches, revealed only after the Cavs completed the greatest comeback in Finals history with their 93-89, Game 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

The trophy puzzle was kept in a case hidden from outsiders and traveled with the Cavs as they made their way through the postseason. Different players who contributed in different ways would place a symbolic piece after every playoff win. For example, Kevin Lovewas selected when the Cavs won Game 3 of the Finals without him as he frustratingly missed the game with a concussion.

The final piece was in the shape of the state of Ohio and was placed by coach Tyronn Lue as the Cavs poured champagne over one another in the Oracle Arena's visitors locker room.

Jones was inspired with the idea from his time with the Miami Heat. In 2012, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra unveiled a version of the trophy that was all black with every player's name on it. They signed the trophy as a contract with one another, and after each playoff win, they added a mark in gold ink.

Jones, who has played sparingly for the Cavs over the past two seasons, is a leader in the locker room. Along with LeBron James, who played with him for four years in Miami, the two have brought numerous techniques and best practices from Miami to Cleveland.

Now they will have rings with both teams.

"Together, that's how you win a championship," Jones said. "Individually we are all just a piece. Everyone had to have their role. Everyone has to have their piece."

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