The “rocky road” that consumed my mind to re- experience a champion sports team in Cleveland, Ohio is over. As a 12 year old child of nearby Akron in 1964, I witnessed a heavily underdog Cleveland Browns team led by fullback, Jimmy Brown, destroy the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in the National Football League Championship game. My parents had relocated our family to South Florida at that time but I never lost the youthful passion for winning that this city had given me that day. How odd that it would take 52 years of sports futility for this to finally happen again. Thank you Cleveland Cavaliers and especially LeBron James. As NBA basketball title holders in 2016, a lifetime of Cleveland sports failure has finally ended for me.
When Akron resident, LeBron James rejoined the Cavaliers, two years ago, he understood the pain of the Cleveland sports fan. Foregoing the temptation to maintain his superstar presence on a proven, Miami Heat powerhouse, he longed for a more lasting presence. In addition to offering his unique, basketball talent, LeBron’s aura of success personified the blue collar mentality of Cleveland as a city. Work hard, nothing comes easy, and remain humble to the cause, became the mantras of this true, American hero on the court and off now. It would only be a matter of time then that the city’s renewed love affair with its hometown hero would logically end in the attainment of a coveted, basketball title.
Game 5, 6, and 7 of the NBA finals demonstrated LeBron’s leadership commitments to these high ideals. Down three games to one to a Golden State team that had only lost nine games all season, the Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to win a championship under such losing circumstances. Undeterred by these bleak prospects, LeBron’s offense and defensive brilliance and willingness to adjust his game in the face of physical intimidation, masterfully inspired his teammates to three, consecutive victories. As all eyes fell on him as the final game ended, the “King” would fall to his knees in silent reflection of this historic accomplishment.
The Cleveland curse is over for me now. I will no longer expend my energy on “fear of failure” neurosis that we will never win the big one in my lifetime. I will never dismiss Cleveland grit to envy New York, Miami, Los Angeles as “more glamorous sports markets. I will never waste time in fretting over missed, game opportunities with unneeded boos. There has never been a better time for being “all in” with Cleveland now. Go Cavs, Go Browns, Go Indians.