The city of Cleveland, Ohio, now has another chapter to etch in their long history of sports lore. Although this time, they won’t be the footnote in someone else’s great story, the Washington Generals to someone else’s team, the other team on the Michael Jordan poster, the… well, you get the idea.
I’ve been married to a native of the Cleveland suburbs for almost five years now, so I’ve heard all the stories: “The Catch” in 1954, “The Fumble” in 1988, “The Move” in 1998… there are many more depressing stories that I’ve heard over the years, none more so than the reason she can’t stand the sound of the tomahawk chop: World Series 1995. But the most recent addition to the list is the best: “The Win.” It may end up being called “The Comeback” as it is the best comeback in NBA finals history.
Even though the Cavaliers aren’t exactly my team, I like them by proxy. It comes with marriage: She supports my teams and I support hers, most of the time. That being said, I must admit, LeBron sullied his rep as far as I’m concerned when he bailed on Cleveland and “took his talents to South Beach”: “The Decision” in 2010. When the rest of sports fans everywhere (outside of Cleveland) rejoiced in “The King’s” rightful trophies, I scoffed. After he won his second in Miami, I said they were tainted victories and the only way to un-sully his name would be to return to Cleveland and win three. So, you got one LeBron, better get to work on those other two.
I kid. The pure emotion he displayed as the seconds ticked away Sunday night were enough to show me that he feels the difference between winning a championship and winning THIS championship.
Cleveland isn’t my favorite team. They never will be. But I cherished that win as if they were. I saw the look on my wife’s face and videos from her friends back home and I couldn’t help but feel like I had been suffering all those years right along with them. I guess it kind of helps that I have been waiting several years for a championship from one of my own favorite teams for quite a while. The wife and I actually argued over who had it worse, having gone so long without a championship. My argument was that she at least had all those titles won in Ohio State, as she is a huge Buckeye fan. Hers was that my favorite baseball team robbed her of a World Series win from her baseball team in ’95. We’re still yet to decide on who’s more pathetic.
But she finally gets to cherish this win with her hometown. A championship that they can call their own, won in major part by one of their own: Akron native LeBron James. Now, the pressure is on me as Atlanta is now fifth in major sports cities with a championship drought. Sure, I could hope for the cities of Charlotte, Cincinnati, Minneapolis or Toronto to get their turn, but that’s not the sports fans’ way.
So, until the Hawks, Falcons, Braves or Bulldogs are able to reach their respective championship wins, I’ll just keep looking back and cherishing that Braves championship from the ’90s, like Cowboys fans.