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Richard Jefferson still finding ways to make an impact

At 35 years old, Cleveland Cavaliers' swingman Richard Jefferson doesn't fit the demographics of Snapchat, the youngest-skewing social media app where up to 60 percent of the users are between the ages of 13 and 24. So why does he spend so much time posting behind-the-scenes looks at the Cavs?

He likes the fact that it doesn't have comments, for one. No trolls, no baiters. He also likes the continual real-time updates.

"It's always refreshing," Jefferson said.

Hmm, constant refreshing -- sort of like the career of a certain small forward recently.

Since 2011, Jefferson has appeared in the uniforms of the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks and now the Cavaliers. He's 15 seasons into his career, and he's still finding ways to make contributions to an NBA Finals team.

"It's impressive," said Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, Jefferson's college teammate at Arizona in the early 2000s. "He got to the league two years before I did. I've been done for years now; he's still playing at a high level. He's had a lot of success in his career.

"He's done a great job of working on his spot-up shooting. As a player gets older, if they want to stay in the league, they have to change the way they play. He's turned into a very reliable knock-down shooter out there. He's still athletic enough to make plays at the rim and compete, but he's more of a shooter now than he was in his younger days."

As Walton leaned against the wall in a corridor in Quicken Loans Arena and gushed about the man he's been close friends with since they were dormitory roommates, Jefferson walked by without even acknowledging Walton's presence. There's no rift, they just are on opposing sides in the NBA Finals at the moment.

"It's business right now," Walton said. "We've got all summer to talk trash, and talk about this experience. Right now, he's with his guys, I'm with my guys."

Said a stern Jefferson: "This is not a joking-around situation."

Jefferson learned to take everything more seriously -- from body fat to practice routines -- during his two-plus seasons with the Spurs. It's a little surprising that he cites his San Antonio stint as a springboard to later success because from the outside it was an experiment gone wrong.

Jefferson was a rare pricey acquisition by the Spurs when they traded for him in 2009, and they won just eight playoff games in two years with him before trading him to the Warriors.

"That was something that definitely was humbling for me," Jefferson said, "and I was able to learn that regardless of ups and downs, how you handle situations will probably dictate your success moving forward."

So he has managed to stay relevant in a completely different role, from the athletic starting scorer of his early years to a savvy contributor off the bench now. His play in the second quarter of Game 2 might have been the highlight for the Cavs in their blowout loss.

And when he's not on the court, he's bringing the team together and sharing insight via social media.

"This team has been closer than everyone has known," Jefferson said. "Thankfully, because of my Snapchat stories, everyone knows that we actually get along."

Related Video
Richard Jefferson, who last made the Finals with the Nets in 2003,
Richard Jefferson, who last made the Finals with the Nets in 2003,
Richard Jefferson, who last made the Finals with the Nets in 2003, on returning after a 13-year drought. Video by Adam Reisinger

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