I’ve found it hard to express how it feels to be from Cleveland and to have just won an NBA championship. We’ve been plagued by the negativity of our history – the drive, the shot, the fumble, etc. It’s always seemed like an invisible force has prevented us from knowing what it feels like to win. But now we are the champions – the center of the sports world. And I’m so damn happy to have been a part of it.
We drove home to Cleveland on Saturday afternoon to spend Father’s Day with family and to witness history Sunday night when the Cavs played the Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. We had lost to Golden State in last year’s Finals, lost both games to them during the course of the regular season and had been down 3-1 in the series. So obviously the odds were not in our favor. Not until LeBron and the Cavs stepped up and performed, beating the Warriors two games in a row to tie the series at 3-3.
For some reason this year felt different. Normally us Cleveland fans are cautious – history has taught us not to get our hopes up, not to celebrate until the game is over. But this year was different. The energy was positive, the city was alive and we had belief in our hearts to the deepest extent. That was new, and it was all we needed.
I went downtown to the center of all the madness and watched the game at the Harry Buffalo. Let me tell you something. Cleveland 100% has the best fans, because anyone who stood in that bar was a straight up trooper. It was hot, sweaty, smelly, and people were crammed together, but everyone ignored those conditions in the hopes that it would all be worth it when the buzzer sounded and Cleveland walked out with its first championship since 1964.
The game was a nail biter, down to the very last minute. The clutch shot by Kyrie went in and the place EXPLODED. We were sooo close. Then LeBron went down and my heart sunk. It was Cleveland’s luck to have what I thought at the time was going to be a devastating injury. I thought to myself, “What will they call this? The foul? The dunk? The brick?” But like I said, things were different this year.
LeBron didn’t stay down. Golden State didn’t come back to steal our thunder. The game clock struck zero and LeBron fell to the ground to weep tears of joy. The bar and streets rejoiced. Drinks were thrown, strangers hugged, high fives came a dime a dozen and 52 years worth of pent-up excitement was released. The Cavaliers were champions. The curse had been lifted.
Over the past few days I’ve found myself reminiscing on this series of events quite often. It’s a sense of pride and an overwhelming feeling of joy that I’ve never felt before. I think about Cleveland and I think about LeBron’s journey. All of the things people said. All of those who doubted him – who held the past against him and discredited him as Cleveland’s King because of the day he left. And I think about how all of those things have contributed to both his and Cleveland’s story, and how overcoming all of the drama and negativity makes this win even more satisfying.
Cleveland is a city of champions. A city of champions and fans with enormous hearts, swelling pride, and a Larry O’Brien Trophy to show for it.
Cheers to Cleveland & the Cavaliers! Thanks for such a special moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.