NEW YORK -- After two games, the odds are stacked up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors won Games 1 and 2 by a combined 48 points, the largest combined margin of victory ever in the Finals -- and that's with both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson not having explosive offensive games. Yet although the Cavs are trailing 2-0, they still could come back much like the Miami Heat did in 2006.
Playing against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 Finals, the Heat lost the first two games of the series but then stormed back, winning the next four to win the championship. So how did the Heat do it? According to Shaquille O'Neal, it was because they believed they could.
Speaking at an American Express event with Phil Jackson in downtown Manhattan on Monday, O'Neal recounted how he told the Heat that they had to believe that they could come back and win, otherwise they would lose.
"I told the guys, if we believe we're not going to win, we're not going to win." O'Neal recalls. "Pat Riley has some championship experience also, so he did a couple crazy speeches."
O'Neal didn't want to reveal any of Riley's crazy speeches but he did tell a rather tall-sounding tale of the now-Heat team president submerging his head in an ice bucket just to motivate the team.
"He came in with a bucket full of ice and he said, 'Do you guys believe I can hold my head in this bucket of ice for three minutes?' Most of the guys were like, 'I don't believe he can do it,'" O'Neal said. "And he did it. He almost died but he did it. So first thing you have to do is believe."
While Riley putting his head into a bucket of ice sounds extreme (and also the three-minutes part seems rather untrue), it had the desired effect on the Heat, motivating them to come back and win the championship in 2006. Perhaps, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue should take note and do something similarly drastic yet a lot safer to motivate his team before Game 3. If it worked for Riley and the Heat, it could possibly work for Lue and the Cavs.