The Cleveland Cavaliers came up short.
The curse lives on for another year (unless, of course, the Indians start living up to the lofty expectations of Sports Illustrated).
The Cavs have still never won an NBA championship, and the good people of the City of Cleveland still haven’t been able to weep tears of joy since the winter of 1964.
So as one of those (hopefully) good people, why do I feel an absence of dread the next day? In fact, I even feel pretty good about what just transpired in the NBA playoffs, even if it was the Golden State Warriors winning it all.
The answer is simple: This is clearly not the end of the road for the Cavs. The window is still wide open, and I remain as confident as ever that LeBron James will bring a trophy to the city sooner rather than later.
In 1995, after the Indians won 100 games and made their first playoff and World Series appearance in 41 years, a parade was held in their honor. Sure, there was no trophy to hoist — that was way down south in Atlanta — but their runner-up finish represented something new: hope and optimism. The Indians might’ve lost the series, but the city was sure that its time was coming.
Of course, the Indians did not fulfill that destiny after all, but hey, that’s Cleveland sports for you.
But the NBA is a lot more predictable than the MLB, and it’s hard to see the Cavs coming up short much longer, as long as LeBron is healthy.
For one, the Eastern Conference has been, and will remain, absolutely horrible. The Cavs made an absolute mockery of the conference in the first three rounds, going 12-2, including two sweeps. And that was without Kevin Love for 10 and a half of those games and Kyrie Irving hobbled or absent for about half of them.
Then in the Finals, against a far superior Warriors team, missing two Team USA players in Love and Irving, the Cavs very nearly stole the series. Their 2-1 lead after three games was the first time a Cleveland team had led a championship series at any point in 67 years.
And that’s where my happiness behind the fresh pain of losing the series comes from. I know moral victories do not end a two-generation drought, but I can clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Cavs will be better next season. They won’t need half the season to learn how to play with each other, they will be getting Irving, Love and Anderson Varejao back healthy and they will know for a fact that they have the ability to get it done.
I know how things work in Cleveland sports too well to count my chickens before they hatch, but this just has a different feeling to it.
“There’s always next year” has never felt so true.