Often lost in the euphoria of confetti blizzards and champagne showers of an NBA finals triumph is the crushing despair just down the hall.

Just last June, an exhausted LeBron James sat behind the microphone not long after his fourth career loss in the finals. He had done everything he could have possibly done for the Cavaliers and it wasn’t enough.

In a moment of unbridled honesty, James wondered if it was all worth it.

“I’m almost starting to be like I’d rather not even make the playoffs than to lose in the finals,” James said after the Cavs lost to the Warriors in six games. “It would hurt a lot easier if I just didn’t make the playoffs and I didn’t have a shot at it.”

James has won two championships, but a year later his Cavaliers are on the brink of heartbreak again. The Cavs trail Golden State 3-1.

Whether the Warriors finish the Cavs off again or James orchestrates one of the great comebacks in sports history, somebody will be left in anguish.

Falling just short can be gut-wrenching, an experience that can haunt a player long after his career is over.

“I’ve often said there’s more great stories in losing locker rooms than winning locker rooms. Great stories. And no one cares to go there because this country relishes, as everyone does, they relish winners,” said Lakers legend Jerry West, who went 1-8 in the finals. “But there’s devastated people in that other locker room. Devastated. Unfortunately that’s been the case for me many years.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.