A curse has been lifted.
Devoid of a professional sports championship since 1964, the city of Cleveland, Ohio had become a complete laughing stock. The butt of every sports joke. A comedic punchline. There seemed to be a hex hovering above the city, looming like a dark cloud. The last 52 years has been an recurring nightmare for Cleveland sports fans, whose city has even become known as “the mistake by the lake”–rightfully so, some would say.
Game Seven marked the end of Cleveland’s terrible cold spell, as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Golden State Warriors to win their first title in franchise history. They were also the first team in NBA history to come back after trailing 3-1 in a Finals series.
What once seemed like a dream has finally become a reality. The nightmare of “The Decision,” when LeBron dashed away to Miami, is now a reference point. “The Fumble” in the 1987 AFC Championship game, Jose Mesa‘s blown save in the 1997 World Series, all can be pushed to the side–at least for now.
The King came home, and delivered on a promise he made to the city two years ago. Not only did he talk the talk; he walked the walk, becoming the first NBA Finals player to lead both teams in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
When the final buzzer sounded, LeBron dropped to his knees and wept on the hardwood. Pressure makes diamonds, and he ultimately shined the brightest under perhaps the greatest pressure he’s faced as a pro.
A half-century of professional defeat has taken its toll on the city. Just three years ago the Cavaliers were the worst team in the league, depending on lottery balls for its draft picks, and few Cavaliers fans could have pictured the streak ever ending. Following Game Seven, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was at a loss for words while being interviewed by ESPN’s Doris Burke.
The whole of Believeland was in disbelief, as its prayers were finally answered.
Does this mean Cleveland will become the land of gold? Probably not. But until the next NBA season begins, the Larry O’ Brien trophy resides in Northeast Ohio. For the first time in over 50 years, the words championship and Cleveland can be used in the same sentence–without said sentence being a joke.
For the city of Cleveland, that’s cause for the celebration of a lifetime.