Fighting what seemed to be insurmountable odds, former Liberty County basketball player Jordan McRae is basking in the glory of playing in the NBA and being called a champion.
The road to the NBA Finals was not well-paved for the former University of Tennessee guard. After a stellar collegiate career in which he played in 114 games with 74 starts and averaged 13.3 points per game, McRae was the 58th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
That’s when the rollercoaster ride leading up to the Cleveland Cavaliers began.
Drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, he was quickly traded to the Philadelphia 76ers and joined the team’s summer league. He played in four games and averaged 21 points per game. After summer league, McRae signed with Melbourne United for the 2014-15 National Basketball League season.
For the NBL, he averaged 19.9 points per game and finished third in scoring, 11th in steals, 12th in blocks and 13th in assists for the entire league.
In March 2015, McRae was acquired by the Delaware 87ers of the NBA D-League where he eventually recorded a career-high 39 points against Oklahoma City Blue on March 22. By July, McRae had rejoined the Sixers but was waived by the team in October.
In November 2015 he was re-acquired by the 87ers and went on to set a D-League single-game record of 61 points scored during a game against the Canton Charge. McRae was named to the East All-Stars for the 2016 D-League All-Stars game.
In January, the Phoenix Suns signed McRae to a 10-day contract. When the contract expired they signed him to an add itional 10 days, but McRae went back to the 87ers when the second 10-day contract expired.
A week later, Feb. 28, McRae signed a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers and played that evening against the Washington Wizard. He scored eight points in seven minutes of play.
On March 9, McRae signed a multi-year contract with the Cavs.
On April 13, he scored an NBA career-high 36 points against the Detroit Pistons.
During the Easter Conference finals McRae played for a minute against the Pistons again, scoring five points. In the NBA Finals, McRae got play time in game 3 and played for three minutes, scoring four points off the bench late in the fourth quarter.
Sunday night, the Cavaliers made history by winning their first championship and Cleveland’s first major sports title in 52 years, as well as being the only team to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win game seven.
“Don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do,” McRae posted on his Facebook page as he gave a celebratory shout-out to his hometown friends in Liberty County. “(With) hard work and faith anything is possible.”