While for LeBron James (and, of course, James Jones), the Cleveland Cavaliers' championship earned on Sunday night was one of legacy-cementing—a third ring to show for a career of dominance—for most, a first championship is a realization of a lifelong dream.
That's the case for J.R. Smith, who broke down into tears during his postgame press conference after being asked about his father, who according to Smith was instrumental in the veteran guard's successful NBA career.
"Today is so special to me. It's on Father's Day. My dad put the ball in my crib," Smith said.
"I mean, my parents, my family, that's the biggest inspiration in my life. I've been in a lot of dark spots in my life, and if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be able to get out of it. But they are who they are. They fought with me. They yelled at me, they screamed at me, they loved me, they hugged me, they cried with me, and they always stuck by my side no matter right or wrong."
After scoring just eight points combined in Games 1 and 2—Golden State Warriors victories—Smith stepped his game up in the last five contests as the Cavs completed the first ever 3-1 comeback in the NBA Finals, averaging 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.6 steals the rest of the way as his team closed the series winning four of five.
"My dad is easily one of my biggest inspirations to play this game," Smith continued. "To hear people talk bad about me, it hurts me because I know it hurts him, and that's not who I am. And I know he raised me better, and I know I want to do better. Just everything I do is for my parents and my family. I mean, I don't really—the cars are nice, the houses are nice, but none of this matters without them. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here. I don't know where I would be, honestly. If it wasn't for them, if it wasn't for the structure and the backbone that I have, I wouldn't be able to mess up and keep coming back and being able to sit in front of you as a world champion."