The 2015 Cleveland Cavaliers were so close to glory.
The team was severely undermanned, yet they gave it their all to try and make history by helping LeBron James bring the first championship in franchise history.
Unfortunately for them, they had to go against a fully healthy Golden State Warriors team in the NBA Finals, and we already know how that went down.
Even so, Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova still made a name for himself for his physical defense on Stephen Curry.
Dellavedova put his body on the line on every single possession, rising up to the occasion and withstanding a literal beating just to always stay in front of the greatest shooter of all time.
Looking back, that’s the moment he earned the love and respect of former teammate J.R. Smith.
As he recently claimed on J.J. Redick’s podcast ‘The Old Man & The Tree,’ Dellavedova ‘almost died’ trying to guard Steph:
“Delly almost died guarding Steph Curry,” Smith said. “No, literally, almost died. We have footage of this man in the ice tub, like literally to his neck trying to guard this man.By that, Dellavedova by far is one of the greatest people I like of all time. He literally gave everything he had, and there was no excuse.”
J.R. Smith has much respect for Dellavedova 👏
(via @OldManAndThree) pic.twitter.com/HSbeiI7IXY
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 14, 2023
The Cavs would go home empty-handed, but that only motivated them to go back even stronger next season.
They made history in 2016 by becoming the first — and only — team that has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, once again with Dellavedova playing a big role.
Delly won’t make it to the Hall of Fame, and he wasn’t even a steady contributor in the league after his stint with the Cavaliers.
But there’s no denying that he earned every single minute of playing time and that ring as much as the Big 3 or any other role player in NBA history.NEXT: Danny Green Reveals How He Felt Being Traded To Cavaliers