WHAT THE CAVS’ WIN MEAN TO CLEVELAND
Cleveland is bursting with the colors of their beloved 2016 NBA championship team’s red and gold. Hotels, homes and streets have started filing up with fans from all across the state of Ohio, all eager to celebrate the Cleveland Cavaliers victory.
The team arrived on Monday afternoon at Hopkins International Airport and were welcomed by 10,000 screaming fans, all lined up around the fence that separated the airstrip from the adjacent I-X Center. And as NBA superstar and 2016 Finals Most Valuable Player Lebron James stepped out of the plane, he hoisted the trophy above his head as the crowd roared their approval.
The City Begins to Smile
Once dubbed as the “saddest sports town” in America, Cleveland is home to three North-American professional sports team, the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League, the Indians in Major League Baseball and the Cavaliers in the National Basketball Association. Up until the Cavs nabbed this year’s NBA championship, the city’s last championship was won by the Cleveland Browns way back in the 1964 Superbowl.
Cleveland had to endure a 52 year title drought or an unprecedented total of a 147 combined seasons before they earned a championship title. Until now citizens are still finding the Cavs’ win surreal, especially since a lot of Clevelanders have never even seen a championship title in their city since the day they were born. Even the 1971 NBA first round draft pick Austin Carr, known as Mr. Cavalier, who played for the franchise from 1971 to 1980 broke into tears during a TV interview as he said, “This means everything.”
Yesterday, on June 22, 2016 11AM EDT or 11PM Manila, A championship rally and victory parade –The first of its kind in more than five decades- was set to kick off the official celebrations as the Cleveland Cavaliers paraded through downtown Cleveland with the Larry O’ Brien trophy for all to see. City officials are expecting that parties will last at least a week as the celebratory atmosphere intensifies as more fans flock towards the cities to participate in a long awaited victory party.
A Promise Kept
Lebron James was born and raised in Akron, Ohio a city not far from Cleveland. As an Ohio native he was aware of the dismal situation that Cleveland sports fans and the city’s professional sports industry were in. Not only does a non-winning franchise mean less interest from the public. But he intimately knew of the disappointment that hung like a dark cloud of over Cleveland sports fans’ heads for more than 5 decades.
James said during a press conference held in the I-X Center shortly after their arrival from Oakland, “Just knowing what our city has been through, northeast Ohio has been through, as far as our sports and everything for the last 50-plus years. You could look back to the Earnest Byner fumble, Elway going 99 yards, to Jose Mesa not being able to close out in the bottom of the ninth to the Cavs went to The Finals — I was on that team — in 2007, us getting swept, and then last year us losing 4-2. And so many more stories.”
He also added, “And our fans, they ride or die, no matter what’s been going on, no matter the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs and so on, and all other sports teams. They continue to support us. And for us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them.”
The NBA superstar once promised to bring home the NBA title to Cleveland when he first signed up with the Cavs in 2003. As talented as he was, it wasn’t enough to bring home the title and after a 7 year stint, he opted to leave the Ohio city franchise to sign up with the Miami Heat in 2010 where he won 2 championship titles. After four years with the Heat he finally decided to move back to Ohio and start working on delivering on his promise.
James is very aware of how devastated the Cavaliers fans were when he decided to move to Miami and during the Cavs’ victory homecoming’s press conference he told fans. “I knew what I was capable of doing. I knew what I learned in the last couple years that I was gone, and I knew I had the right ingredients and the right blueprint to help this franchise get back to a place that we’ve never been.”
For his heroic effort, his fans coined the phrase “King James, the Oathkeeper” or simply “the Promise Keeper” as a sign of incredible respect and admiration for him. And the city of Cleveland couldn’t agree more.
Done in Historic Fashion
The Oakland, California based Warriors is considered to be the winningest teams in the NBA regular season ever. They racked up a record 73 wins in the 2016 regular season that broke the 72 win record set by the Bulls in the 1996 season.
It came as no surprise when the Warriors raced to a 3 – 1 lead and the Cavaliers were left for dead by many impartial observers. Everybody expected the Warriors to run away with the title and it looked like they just gave one win to the Cavs to take the series back home to Oakland and deliver the knock-out punch there. Cavs fans had already resigned themselves for another dry spell.
But even with their backs against the ropes and facing elimination, the Cavs never gave up on their quest for a title. On game 5, the Cavs seemed to have found a renewed vigor as Lebron James in particular seemed to play with an intensity and confidence that drove the entire team to play more cohesively. Capitalizing on Draymond Green’s one-game suspension, the Cavs set out to beat the Warriors in their home turf and brought the score up to 3 – 2.
Facing elimination two games in a row, game 6 in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena was a boon to the Cavs. The sight of their fans openly supporting them helped buoy the team’s spirits while Lebron James’ performance left NBA fans in awe as he delivered his second consecutive 40 point game that helped tie the series 3 – 3.
As far as game 7 went, we all know what happened. The Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had to work with a lineup that was less than ideal against the hard-charging Cavaliers, with key defensive players like Iguodala and Bogut out of commission due to injuries. The Cavaliers and Warriors were on a level playing field and in spite of having to play in the Golden State’s home court, the Cavaliers led by Lebron capitalized on their opponents’ weaknesses and went on to defeat the Warriors 93 – 89.
With their victory the Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to get out of a 3 – 1 finals deficit and went on to win the title. The first to win a championship title against the winningest team in NBA history, and the first major Cleveland professional sports franchise to deliver a championship trophy in more than five decades.
To Cleveland, the Cavs weren’t just bringing home a shiny trophy, they were bringing home the 52 years’ worth of hopes and prayers. A lot of Clevelanders couldn’t help but sob in relief, since most of them haven’t seen a championship title in Cleveland since the day they were born. And the fact that the win is one for the record books makes it all the more sweeter for the citizens of Cleveland, Ohio. – tradeinmagazine.com