Prior to the Cavs winning the 2016 NBA Championship, the city of Cleveland had a 52-year major sports championship drought, it was one of the longest droughts in American history.
In 2014, when LeBron James came back to the Cavaliers, he voiced his intent to end this drought.
Him making that statement meant that all the pressure was now squarely on him, and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, and GM David Griffin to deliver on that promise.
In doing so, they mortgaged all of their future, with reckless abandon in fact. Soon as Lebron arrived in Cleveland they traded their two most recent first overall picks, Anthony Bennett, and Andrew Wiggins in exchange for Kevin Love. Retrospectively, the Cavaliers absolutely won this trade, but this mindset and constant win-now mindset is what eventually turned David Griffin off from the job as GM of the Cavaliers.
“Everything we did was so inorganic and unsustainable and, frankly, not fun. I was miserable,” Griffin said in a new interview with Sports Illustrated. “Literally the moment we won the championship I knew I was gonna leave. There was no way I was gonna stay for any amount of money.”
During Lebron’s second tenure in Cleveland, they were in constant win now, and do it by any means necessary mode. This included giving Tristan Thompson $80 million, and Kevin Love $120 million. Though they did win, according to Sports Illustrated, he cried in an Oakland broom closet as the team celebrated. “I didn’t watch the league, and I didn’t love the game anymore,” Griffin says.
Griff’s contract was up following the 2016 season, and he was out of basketball until taking the New Orleans Pelicans GM position this past April.
Griffin couldn’t resist the urge to build with New Orleans’ young, diverse roster of star player Jrue Holiday and sensation rookie Zion Williamson. Griffin doesn’t want to yet give in to the idea that this team is waiting for Zion to take the helm.
“We don’t have guys that are complacent champions,” Griffin said. “We’ve got really hungry winners.”