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What Coming Home really means to the Cleveland Cavaliers

Long-suffering.

Die-hard.

Two words that describe Cleveland sport’s fans, a word short for fanatic, to perfection. Cleveland sport’s has a way of growing, and wearing, on you.

The last time a professional sports team in Cleveland won a championship, Lyndon Johnson lived in the White House. Another way to say it is a 22 year-old Cassius Clay upset Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight champion of boxing. 1964 was also the year Cavalier legend Mark Price was born.

It’s been a long, long time.

And it hasn’t been easy. Along the way, hopes were raised only to be dashed in the pain of defeat. Mind-numbing defeats, Red-Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, and on and on. It seemed to never stop.

Until a local kid from Akron was drafted by the Cavaliers. Hailed as “the next Michael Jordan”, LeBron James skipped college and entered the NBA draft and the Cavs had the first pick. Things were looking up for the Cavs, and Cleveland, as James seemed to be better than the hype.
Soon, James would lead his team to the playoffs and once, as far as the Finals before losing to the San Antonio Spurs. It seemed as long as the Cavs had James they had a chance at the title. Reality was perception, and the Cavs found out the hard way when James announced his departure via The Decision on ESPN.

Over the next four seasons, the Cavs record was 97–215. The only real highlight would be winning the lottery three of those four years. The drafts produced a star in Kyrie Irving and projects in Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett. Hype in Dion Waiters and potential in Sergey Karasev. And hope in Andrew Wiggins.

But before that, there wasn’t much hope. There were questions. Can Waiters and Irving coexist? Who will be the coach? Will Bennett ever become worthy of a 1st round pick, let alone the number one pick?

After that, there were more questions, like who is David Blatt? Will Irving and Waiters learn to coexist? Where will Wiggins play?

And then a beautiful thing happened. LeBron James wrote a love letter to Ohio, to the fans. He said “I’m coming home.” Not coming back, but coming home. The difference is small, but still there. Anybody can come back, but he was coming home. Home, where the heart is.

James has the most interesting character arc and story in sports. From local hero, to villain, and now, perhaps savior. Perhaps, because maybe it’s safe to finally dream, to hope, that this title drought is over. Following the Ohio State Buckeyes amazing march through the first college playoffs, concluding with winning the national championship trophy, it seems like it’s time for a torrential downpour of confetti and trophies on Cleveland, and all of Ohio. “All In” as the Cavaliers motto says.

Playing the parallels, when OSU was down to it’s third-string quarterback going into the playoffs, they weren’t given much of a chance, like when the Cavs lost Kevin Love. Nationally, despite having James, the media seems to think that the Cavs don’t stand a chance. James denies being the underdog, or did against the Hawks, before demoralizing them in the Eastern Conference Finals. Similar to the “Ohio Against The World” mentality that fans developed during the Buckeyes dominant playoff run. 
Again, in a similar fashion, the Oregon Ducks were the favorites to OSU by national media. Oregon had the Heisman winner Marcus Mariota and a fast paced offense. The Ducks had blown out teams all season and most outside of Ohio thought that the Buckeyes didn’t stand a chance. The Golden State Warriors are known for the fast-paced offense behind star Steph Curry.

Let’s hope these stories play out the same way. That LeBron James brings a title “home” with him.
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