The Cleveland Cavaliers have just advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007, and all I can think about is just that year, ‘07.
The team was significantly less talented than the Spurs that year, and they probably knew it. LeBron James and company were merely happy to reach the pinnacle of basketball excellence that is the Finals.
However, this time they have a legitimate chance at the elusive title the city of Cleveland hasn’t experienced since 1964 when the Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts 27-0. Cleveland has nearly tasted the championship champagne on several occasions since then — most notably in 1987 and 1988 with the Browns and 1997 with the Indians. However, collectively John Elway, Earnest Byner, Edgar Renteria and Jose Mesa broke the hearts of Cleveland fans everywhere.
Not to mention the shot Michael Jordan made over Craig Ehlo in 1989 or the blown 3-1 series lead over the Red Sox for the Tribe in 2007. Throw in LeBron’s decision in 2010 when he took his talents to South Beach, and one couldn’t help but think this city was cursed.
I’m almost convinced they all got together and were in on the whole thing, sort of like an Ocean’s 11 ordeal, except to screw over Cleveland sports franchises instead of some multi-millionaire casino owner. There’s no way this many unfortunate events occur for one city. No way, I tell you.
Upon LeBron’s return to Cleveland in the summer of 2014, grand expectations surfaced and consumed the fan base, as some went as far to celebrate in front of the man’s Bath, Ohio, home moments after hearing word he would be coming home. What would drive people to go out of their way and celebrate at his house?
The answer is simple enough: the shot at a championship that everyone knew was now a very realistic opportunity with the return of one of the five best players to ever play the game of basketball.
The hunger for a championship and all that it encompasses filled the minds of fans, and they couldn’t help themselves.
A title for this area is larger than basketball at this point, as it can be used to boost the morale of the people, bolster the economy and even give the community something to rally around in the wake of events like the Michael Brelo trial and the death of Tamir Rice that have tormented the city.
The area of Northeast Ohio and Cavs fans throughout the state know that the drought may very well be over with their hometown team returning to the forefront of the basketball world.
The thing about destiny is it always happens the exact way it should. Maybe all of these setbacks in the history of Cleveland sports were reminders of our resilience and toughness to withstand anything, even a 51-year-old championship drought.
Maybe LeBron needed to leave in order to learn how to win and come back with a newfound confidence that exudes in each and every one of his teammates.
And maybe, just maybe, all of the losses in the past will make this one even more special and one to cherish forever.
Just. Four. Wins. Away.