Many of the 44.5 million viewers that watched Game 7 of the NBA finals from 10:30-10:40 p.m. were surprised to hear Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue say “Mexico, Missouri” during an interview after his team won its first ever championship.
The curiosity of viewers caused the phrase “Mexico, Missouri” to trend on Facebook and be talked about on Twitter for the next day.
Cleveland Cavaliers legend Larry Nance even tweeted “the real winner here is Mexico, Missouri.”
Lue, who grew up in the Audrain County town where a road is named after him, was overwhelmed with emotion after his team brought Cleveland their first professional sports title in 52 years.
During an interview with ABC’s Doris Burke, he soon made his first reference to his hometown.
“…And I told these guys all year, we’ve been making history,” Lue told Burke. “Why not tonight? I just want to give a shout out to Mexico, Missouri and Cleveland, Ohio. We’re coming back home baby!”
Minutes later he was asked about Lebron James and Lue was still overwhelmed with emotions as a small town kid who once played basketball in Mexico before later playing in Raytown.
“I’m just happy for Lebron, I’m happy for the city of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, and Mexico, Missouri. We’re in the house baby.”
Burke responded by saying “two shout outs for Mexico. Congratulations.”
In the post game press conference, Lue explained some of the reason he was moved with so much emotion that he cried and later admitted he had not cried before.
He referenced his brother Greg being there for the big night and said there were a lot of emotions as his grandfather couldn’t be there because he had passed away.
Lue then referenced his mom as a minister and said “God is good.”
A reporter from an Akron newspaper then asked “what’s going on in Mexico, Missouri, are they going to sleep tonight.”
“Probably not,” Lue said with a smile. “I’m just so proud man of where I’ve come from. It’s just crazy that a guy from a small town, Mexico, Missouri, you know, it was more people in the stands tonight, double, than there is in my hometown. You know we have 11,000 people in my hometown and you’ve got 22,000 there in the arena tonight. It’s just an unbelievable feeling. I’m just happy that a small town boy can do some positive. Shows other kids that there is hope, there is time to grow as a person and time to do the right thing…”
He was then asked about how the 4th of July weekend will be. “It’s going to be unbelievable, I can’t wait,” said Lue, who is known for purchasing fireworks and putting on a much talked about display every year.
The 18.9 overnight rating made Game 7 the highest-rated sports telecast on ABC or ESPN since 2006.
When Lue was on the court, he saw time in Mexico and Raytown before taking his talents to the University of Nebraska.
During his NBA career, Lue won an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers. He played on several NBA teams before retiring in 2009. He began his coaching career as the Director of Basketball Development for the Boston Celtics. In 2014, he was hired as an associate head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers before taking over the head coaching position this January when the team fired David Blatt.
Lue, age 39, then became the fourth youngest coach in NBA history to lead his team to a title.
He also helped his team become the first ever squad to be down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to rally to win a championship.
The Vandalia Leader’s Facebook Page
The Vandalia Leader first put up some coverage on Lue’s comments on its Facebook page just hours after the Cavaliers’ big win.
The newspaper picked up some records of their own. A post on Lue reached 66,710 and had 421 shares along with 951 “Likes” as of Tuesday morning. The newspaper’s page also gained 54 “Likes” in about 24 hours.