“52 years, 4 teams, 150 seasons, 11835 games. It all comes down to tonight, trying to become the first team in NBA history to come back from 3-1 in the Finals, against a team who hasn’t lost 3 games in a row in almost 3 years. The city is led by a Cleveland native and hometown hero, who leads the series in every statistical category.
Do you believe in miracles?”
That is what Collin Oliva, a Cleveland local, wrote on Facebook the night of June 19th, Game 7. Millions of others from Cleveland and around the world tuned in to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors go head to head for the championship for the second year in a row. Social media was buzzing with prayers and encouragement from Cleveland fans, like Collin, in hopes that their team would “win one for the land;” people praising “The King” Lebron James for leading the team thus far to Game 7.
After tip-off, fans kept to social media to express their feelings about the tooth and nail game. The next three hours were filled with breath-holding and nail-biting moments, as the back and forth scoring kept both teams in close range to each other. That was until the very last minute. Tied at 89-89, Cleveland knew they had to make their move. At 54 seconds, Kyrie Irving shot “THE SHOT,” the “clutch” shot. The 3-point miracle putting the Cavs ahead to 92. The cheers were deafening and joyful cries were on their way. The remaining 53 seconds were once again full of held breaths, but the Cavs did not falter. Lebron James was fouled, and only 1 point was needed to truly secure the lead and the win. The King made his second free throw, and the cheers erupted once more. As the clock winded down to 0:00, the cheers did not stop, and the tears of joy began to flow.
Cleveland defied all odds. They did more than win a championship for a city that had not seen one in over 5 decades, they made history. The Cavs became the first team in the NBA to return from a 3-1 deficit during Finals and win. Screaming and cheering could be heard from bars, the streets, cars, and homes all over Northeastern Ohio. Cars honked at passersby as they cheered to each other. People could be seen on any given street walking with pride, hugging each other, making phone calls to loved ones to relish in victory. Cleveland did it. We did it.
There is something about the tenacity of the Cleveland fan base that is unmatched by any other city. Cleveland fans are resilient, they are spiritual. They are patient. They possess a pride that cannot be broken. They have proven their loyalty and dedication to their city and teams year after year. And on June 22nd they came together, all 1.3 million of them, for the Championship Parade in downtown Cleveland to celebrate the “miraCLE.” Fans were driving in from out of town and out of state. A few of the dedicated even flew in from out of country from places as far away as Australia and Abu Dhabi. For Cleveland fans, this celebration was about more than holding the title of Champions. This was about returning pride and love to The Land. It was about restoring the faith of millions. For years – for decades – Cleveland was taunted for their bad luck with sports and the appointed motto of “there’s always next year.” That was until Sunday night when the drought ended. The “Cleveland Curse” was broken. The King returned the crown.
And now? The future of Cleveland sports is looking brighter. The AHL Lake Erie Monsters defeated the Hershey Bears and brought home the Calder Cup on Saturday, June 11th in overtime with a score of 1-0. This was the team’s first Calder Cup in the franchise’s history; this was also the largest crowd drawn in the franchise’s history with a total of 19,665 in attendance. The Cleveland Indians are currently sitting in first place (knock on wood!). They have been on a winning streak, with their latest win last taking place last night, June 22nd. No more “we’ll win next year,” Cleveland. Next year has arrived!