“It’s over! It’s over! Cleveland is a city of champions once again! The Cavaliers are NBA Champions!” –Mike Breen
For those who haven’t heard or have been living under a rock for the past month and a half, the Cleveland Cavaliers realized their dream and the city’s dream by becoming the 2016 NBA Champions. LeBron finally brought it home and showed his elation through his famous quote following Game 7 with, “Cleveland, this is for you!” That being said, this article is not to summarize the events of the championship win as one can find thousands of articles on that. No, this will be an account of the events that occurred following the big win and will further emphasize and explain the effect this championship has had on the city of Cleveland and the state of Ohio.
To start, there will never be a championship quite like this one in Cavalier or Cleveland sports history ever again. I mean, we are talking 52 years of nothing but crushing disappointment, humiliation, and anguish. The phrase, “so close, yet so far away” described our city. Was I a witness to “The Drive” or “The Shot” or “The Collapse”? No, I wasn’t. However, both young and old residents of this city felt this desire, this need for a championship. Once again though, that feeling of “maybe next year” felt all too familiar when the Cavs found themselves in 3-1 hole to the defending, 73-9 champion, Golden State Warriors. It made everything that much sweeter when it was all said and done.
How does this city celebrate? Well 1.3 million people, give or take, fill up the city and watch as the Larry O’Brien trophy travels down the streets of Cleveland along with the players that altered Cleveland sports history forever. So much championship gear was purchased that orders were backed up by weeks. In fact, I sit here with my championship hat I ordered the night they won and it arrived just five days ago! It was a great reminder to keep celebrating this glorious championship. In addition to all of this, the Cavs took home nearly every ESPY they were nominated for and deservedly so. Everywhere us Clevelanders go, we no longer are looked at as losers. We are champions. I wear my championship shirt and hat everywhere I go and the, “let’s go Cavs” chants are recited in whatever part of the country I’m in by people I don’t even know. The city is together and there is a very positive vibe about the city as it seems everyone walks with a pep in their step nowadays. It’s a cohesion unmatched by any other city and its put everyone in a great mood. It’s a feeling I never want to go away.
The city hasn’t stopped celebrating. It’s hard to not get on a phone or computer and watch that ending over and over of LeBron on his knees crying. Or Kyrie being tackled by player development coach, Phil Handy. Or how about RJ sitting still on the bench in awe as his teammates celebrated on the court? J.R’s speech about his parents was a tear jerker as well. So many great moments are to be remembered from that night but most of all, you can’t make up this story. You simply can’t.
The kid from Akron selected number 1 overall in the 2003 NBA Draft leads his team to the NBA Finals once, only to be swept in 2007. He attempts to get back to that stage the next few seasons to no avail and would leave the city that raised him to become a 2 time champion in Miami. He was hated, by the NBA but most of all by his city. He decides to come home in the summer of 2014 and things were looking up until he and his depleted team would run out of gas in the 2015 NBA Finals. The drama and question marks that filled this season hindered a lot of people from thinking LeBron James would ever bring a title to his beloved hometown. Finally, being down in a 3-1 hole almost put the seal on the season’s fate. A hole that 32 teams couldn’t dig out of in NBA Finals history was finally dug out of by the one man that can come back, LeBron James as he leads his team to the promised land. In addition to that, a star was officially born in Kyrie Irving as one day, LeBron will pass that torch onto the 24 year old out of Duke University. Trust in LeBron James. Trust in the Cavaliers. He and the team loved being doubted and they sure shut up a lot of doubters this year. It’s a beautiful story of revenge, relief, and triumph.
So don’t let the party stop. This summer could’ve been so much different had the Cavaliers lost. We could be talking about trades, firings, and loads more. Instead all we have to do is celebrate and look forward to ring night with new faces like Mike Dunleavy, Kay Felder, and Chris “Birdman” Andersen. We will miss this year and we will miss Delly, Mozgov, and cheerleader, Sasha Kaun but soon it’ll be time to get back to work as the Cavs will look to repeat as Champions. It’s been said so many times before but always believe. This is Believeland, right? Finally, in the words of Jimmy Valvano, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” The Cavaliers sure didn’t.