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From the 2014-15 season through the 2018-19 season, the Golden State Warriors were one of the greatest NBA teams of all-time. The Warriors went to five straight NBA Finals and won three of them. They ultimately won back-to-back championships during the 2016-17 and the 2017-18 seasons too. However, they could have won one more ring during those five seasons if Klay Thompson had not made a big mistake.

Klay Thompson called out LeBron James during the 2016 NBA Finals

The Golden State Warriors won three NBA championships in five seasons. They could have one more ring, though, if it wasn't for Klay Thompson.
Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors looks on during warm-ups before Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals in 2019. | Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

It was 2016. The Golden State Warriors were coming off an NBA championship during the 2014-15 season. They then had a 73-9 record during the 2015-16 regular season. Additionally, for the second year in a row, the Warriors were playing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. It looked like they were going to beat them for the second season in a row too as they led the Cavaliers 3-1 in the series.

The Warriors first won Game 1 by a score of 104-89. They then won 110-77 in Game 2. The Cavaliers won 120-90 in Game 3 but the Warriors bounced back and won 108-97 in Game 4. It looked like the Warriors were just by far the better team and that the Cavaliers just could not compete with them.

However, Draymond Green received a flagrant-1 foul from the NBA for his actions in Game 4 of that series, according to Bleacher Report. The result was a one-game suspension for Game 5. Green’s foul happened on LeBron James and James was not happy about the move as the two exchanged some words during the game. Klay Thompson, though, later called James out in a press conference.

“Guys talk trash in this league all the time,” Thompson said in a press conference, according to FOX Sports Ohio. “I’m just kind of shocked some guys take it so personal. It’s a man’s league … I guess his feelings just got hurt.”

Klay Thompson

James was then asked about Thompson’s comments and all he did was laugh and say that he was going to take the high road. However, everyone could tell that Thompson might have poked the bear.

The Cavaliers were not happy about his comments

LeBron James never said anything about Klay Thompson’s comments. However, Yahoo’s The Vertical reported that other people within the Cleveland Cavaliers’ organization took notice of the comments. They wondered how Thompson could complain about a screen set by former Cavaliers big man Timofey Mozgov and then later say that about James.

“If it’s a man’s game, shut up about the [illegal screen],” Richard Jefferson told The Vertical. “Or don’t say anything about LeBron. Klay, he’s like my little brother. But we can’t contradict ourselves.”

Richard Jefferson

It was clear, with LeBron James’ laugh and Richard Jefferson’s comments, that the Cavaliers were not fond of Thompson’s comments. It ended up not working out well for Thompson and the Warriors in the end, though. 

James and the Cavaliers proved Thompson right

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up proving Thompson right. It is, in fact, a man’s league. It just ultimately did not work out well for Thompson and the Warriors. 

The Cavaliers won 112-97 in Game 5 and then 115-101 in Game 6. LeBron James absolutely dominated in those games too. He scored 41 points to go with 16 rebounds and seven assists in Game 5. James then had 41 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds in Game 6. He could not be stopped, whether Draymond Green was on the court or not. 

Then, the Cavaliers ultimately completed the comeback in the series by winning 93-89 in Game 7. James had a triple-double in that game too. 

So, what would have happened had Klay Thompson never called LeBron James out? Would James not have had the extra motivation to dominate in Games 5, 6, and 7? Would the Cavaliers not have had the extra motivation to play better as a team in those games? It is hard to tell for sure but Thompson’s words certainly didn’t help the Warriors. If he would have kept his opinions to himself, the Golden State Warriors could have won four championships over five years, not just three.