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Cleveland Together: What a Cavs NBA Title would mean

There are these far-to-brief moments in life in which you catch a glimpse or just a feeling of something special, something so nostalgic that it makes every nerve in your body tingle, and ever inch of you skin warm. I'm pretty sure that's what a championship would feel like for the City of Cleveland. I know that's what it would feel like for me.

No, a title doesn't fix the woes in life.

No, a title doesn't mean a city's economy is better, or that "hard times," as the American Dream Dusty Rhodes once cut a promo for, are on their way out.

No, a title doesn't take the place of a child's birth, or an award they win at school.

No, a title doesn't take the place of losing something, or something important to you.

But if sports are intertwined into your life, much like your morning cup of coffee, or brushing your teeth at night, winning a championship is important. NOT winning a championship becomes a thing, and it becomes a thing we don't want to talk about. More importantly, it becomes a thing you don't want ANYONE ELSE to talk about.

But today I have the feeling. I haven't had it for longer than a few minutes since 1997, when the Cleveland Indians entered a Game 7 against the Florida Marlins for the World Series Championship.

While it didn't happen, and while the end of that game left a black mark on my soul, that day I could see that a championship was important.

Win-or-lose, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to win something that many North Coast sports' fans have either never witnessed, or can barely remember, a tried and true Cleveland championship.

As I pondered what to write today, I realized that my mind kept meandering it's way to a friend, a family member, an athlete, or a broadcaster, that dreamed of a day like today...dreamed for just a chance.

For the second time in MY life, a Cleveland team has that chance, and while I could opine for days about why that's important to me, my thoughts finally landed on what EHC would focus on.

Today, I reached out to several of my favorite writers, Twitters and friends to jot some notes about what winning a championship today would mean to them. Below, you'll see some familiar names, and some not-so-familiar, but all share some of that common ground...that common pain...that common nostalgia...

...most importantly...that feeling...

Do you feel it?

Jerry "J-Rocc" Mires--Host of TheSportsFix.net--Pro Wrestling Superstar

What this NBA Title meant can not be put into words...the feeling of defeat and despair has so permeated our city so thick, for so long, that it remains surreal to think three professional franchises, 52 years...

What it means is our grandfathers and our fathers were right--Cleveland does rock, and finally, the world has no choice but to acknowledge that as well. Nobody will persevere more, endure more, and fight through more than someone from the 216...and we did it the only Cleveland way--against all odds, when no one believed, and in record setting fashion.
Happy Father's Day Cleveland sports families everywhere...how fitting.

Michael Goodman---IBI Columnist

For years, the ineptitude of the Cleveland sports' teams has become an extension of how the city is outwardly perceived. Those of us from Cleveland love our city, feel it's underrated, and wish it was seen in a different light nationally.
 
This victory is, hopefully, a part of a changing image for the City of Cleveland. The city now has a winner to celebrate. The curse is over, and hopefully with it, the perpetual pessimism of the Cleveland sports fan. 

For me, personally, I'm too young to understand the pain of most of the Cleveland near-misses. However, I do believe I understand the magnitude of this victory. Our parents and grandparents have waited almost a lifetime to see this...and in true Cleveland fashion, LeBron James and the Cavaliers took the absolute hardest road to get there. Down 3-1, to the best regular season team in history. 

That's how you vanquish a curse. 

That's how you get that monkey off your back. 

That's how you start a new chapter in the history of Cleveland sports.

Corey Crisan--YSU Radio Host & IBI Columnist

I was able to share the moment with my Dad, in the city we love. He turns 54 in two weeks. The Cavs clinched on Father's Day. That alone make it all worth it. The clock ran out and I turned around and broke into tears and just hugged my Dad. "We did it. Happy Father's Day."

Michael Hattery--EHC Founder and Columnist

I Iayed in bed at 2 A.M preparing for my workday, Shaker Square was filled with sound. Horns blaring, fans screaming and amateur fireworks littering the darkness. I realized this was the day that I always wanted to experience, not just as a Cleveland fan but as a displaced Cleveland fan.

I grew up in Upstate New York, but my father was raised in Medina, Ohio. My first memories are him telling Jimmy Piersall stories and growing up as the 90's Indians began to fade. He was born into time in Cleveland when the Cavaliers did not exist and Bill Russell, John Havlicek were king. I grew up in love with Cleveland sports because it was one strong way in which my father and I related.

We would camp out, and if it was a clear night, listen to Tom Hamilton on WTAM. We ducked out of family gatherings to watch LeBron knock out the pompous Pistons teams led by Wallace, Prince, and Hamilton.

Yet, we were watching from afar, we were displaced Cleveland fans in Ithaca, New York. We made it to a game or two in Cleveland every year, and always watched at home.

Then in 2015, I had got a delightful offer from Case Western Law, and my wife at the Clinic. For various personal reasons, moving to Cleveland made sense.

Which brings me to June 19, 2016. We had tickets to the Indians home sweep opportunity and went down to our normal parking at Tower City.

At 11:47 A.M walking to the stadium the downtown was already beginning to fill and as ESPN shot its early coverage of Cleveland between Progressive and the Q, the crowd was sparse but loud.

As the Indians walked off in front of an electric crowd which made Progressive feel alive to me for the first time in a long time, our collective attention shifted. Cleveland rocks blasted over the loudspeakers. Chants of "Let's go Tribe" became chants of "Let's go Cavs" as we exited to the gates. 

But on the concourse between Quicken Loans Arena and Tower City, I had an otherworldly experience. The concourse was filled with Lindor Jersey's, with Haden Jersey's and with Irving jersey's. But at that moment the community was one.

A six year old kid, with a high pitched voice and charming naiveté started a "Lets go Cavs" chant. It spread like a wild fire. Entering from the floor fans joined in and the sound echoed from one end of the concourse to another.

Lebron, and this Cavs team made us feel like we were all apart of it. I moved here 10 months ago and that feeling, that community heart beat was something I had never experienced before.

So thank you Lebron.

Thank you Cavaliers.

Thank you Cleveland.

Hayden Grove--Scout.com's Indians and Cavs beat writer, EHC Guest Podcaster

Growing up in a city of champions was tough.

The joy and happiness slapped on the faces of fans in South Florida was seemingly constant. 

The Florida Marlins in 1997, the Miami Hurricanes in 2001, the Miami Heat in 2006, the Florida Gators in 2007, the Heat again in 2012… and 2013— those are just some of the championship seasons that I remember off of the top of my head.

To be around such success, to some, may seem a blessing. The problem was, I wasn’t a part of it. 

I was around it. I watched the celebrations intently, but I did so from the sidelines. Never was I able to take part in the joy that so many around me experienced. 

I had no connection to South Florida, no connection to the teams that won with such consistency. 

My parents were “Mid Kids,” as I so affectionately refer to them. 

My mother is from the Midwest, born and raised in Cleveland. My father is from a small-town in southeastern Pennsylvania— the Mid-Atlantic. He, however, met my mother in Cleveland and has worked in a building— or multiple buildings— bearing Cleveland’s name for over thirty years. 

Quite simply, while Ft. Lauderdale will always have my heart— and my lifelong friends— it’s where I was born. It’s not where I was from. 

Having lived in Ohio for three years now, I, for the first time in my life, feel as if I’ve made it home. 

I miss my parents and my dear friends in Florida, but I feel as if I am finally a part of something— thought it’s a feeling far from that of a fan. 

As a member of the media in Cleveland, no longer do I “cheer” for the Cleveland teams that I cover, but I feel more connected to them than ever. 

To have experienced them so closely is to feel that, while I’m certainly not part of the team, I play the smallest of parts in telling their stories.

It’s been incredible to have chronicled the Cavaliers this season and no matter what happens tonight, I will always be thankful. 

I’ll be thankful to have been along for the ride, to have been guided by some incredible individuals, to have made memories that will last a lifetime and, most importantly, to have finally felt a part of something. 

I might’ve been watching from the rafters of The Q, but I wasn’t standing alone on the sidelines, as I did for so many years. 

Thank you, Cleveland, for welcoming me home.

Monte the Colorman--Broadcaster, Cleveland Indians in Major League, and a really cool Twitter guy

I chose to come to Cleveland 20 years ago. It was the right move for me for career and family reasons. I always get a little bit annoyed when people I grew up with mock me for coming here, or put down the city in some way. They don't know or see all the great things about the city. Cleveland's now my home. I married a woman from here, bought a house here, and I'm raising a family here.
I've always been a huge baseball fan and grew up rooting for the Yankees. In 1997, I had to decide where my loyalties were. The Indians and Yankees were facing off in the ALDS. I honestly didn't know who I was going to root for. But being around the fans in Cleveland for awhile and seeing how much they loved their teams, I couldn't help but root for the Indians. As a huge baseball fan, a small part of me stupidly wished the Indians could be the first Cleveland team break the championship drought. They got close a couple times, but never made it.
Cleveland fans are the most dedicated and deserving fans anywhere. They have come so close, only to see it snatched away and memorialized in documentaries. What would a Cavs title mean to me? Tough to put into words. It would surely mean more to the people born and raised here. I know it would mean a lot to my kids. It's time to end Cleveland fans' suffering and start the celebrating. It's time to show the rest of the world the amazing things that exist here and dispel the reputation of this being "the mistake by the lake."

Jeff Ellis--Lead MLB Draft writer at Scout.com

I have no idea what it (a Cavs NBA championship) would mean. My whole sports life has been defined by not winning. I am sure I will be ecstatic if they win. Yet how can one know how they will feel for an experience they have never had. In '97 I was all of 16, and had been a sports fan for just seven years really. I didn't understand the history, but now as a person who turns 35 next month, winning is less about me. I am more excited for my Dad who was five when Cleveland last won anything. I am happiest for those who have been watching and dying with Cleveland for decades longer than me. I am so very hopeful, but not just for me or the city, but more so for all those fans who are older and deserve a chance to experience the thrill of a Championship as a fan. It is a chance to experience history.

Jeff Rich--Host of the 'Lay of the Land Podcast' at ForeveRRebuilding.com

When I stood on that bridge at Jacobs Field for Game 3 of the 1995 World Series, I remember, thinking, this is it. We wore that stench of 'happy to be here', and we seemingly came so far, so quickly. Well, 21-years later, 18,801 days removed from being better than simply 'happy to be here', the tune changes to 'thanks for stopping by, come back now, ya hear?'. Just the possibility, the mere possibility that Cleveland can win one game, and the city will have its championship, it's brought nothing but tears of joy since the final buzzer of Game 6 of these NBA Finals.

We spend so much time focusing on the misery, because that's all we know. Fifteen years removed from my time in Northeast Ohio, and the thirst has never waned. We're on the doorstep of something special, and you know much this means to yourself, but it gets even better when you think about sharing the joy with everyone you knew for the first part of your life. The joy is just something else; it can be overwhelming to the point where you wonder if it's even real. Everything is real, it always has been, and the scales have finally tipped on our direction. It simply does not get better.

Stephanie Liscio--It's Pronounced Lajaway Co-Owner and Columnist

Cleveland sports are a funny thing.  Here are the Cavs, one win away from a championship.  It's something this city has coveted for more than 50 years, and all I can think about is game 7 of the 1997 World Series.  I fully expect sports to disappoint me in the end - the question becomes "When will it happen?" and "How crushing will it be this time?"  I want to believe this time will be different, but after decades of the worst possible scenario, I'm struggling to find optimism.  In a wa,y it's a mental survival tactic...if you don't get your hopes up too high, then a loss is significantly less crushing.

A weird thing about sports, for both fans and athletes, is the potential for superstition.  I've seen people discuss plans to wear the same clothes as they have for other wins, eat the same foods, or to replicate their schedule for those days.  It's absurd in a way, when you think about it.  There are thousands upon thousands of fans...why does it matter if one person puts on the same t-shirt that they wore Thursday night?  I'm not immune to this line of thinking either.  I'm currently in London, and Game 7 won't start until 1 am.  I couldn't find a place airing Game 6, so I went to sleep and figured I'd just have to check the score when I woke in the morning.  Now I find myself wondering whether or not I should attempt to find a spot to watch Game 7, or if the game will somehow have a better outcome if I stay away from it.  Oh, and I'm also contemplating wearing my Cavs shirt again, even though I wore it all day Thursday and it's pretty gross at the moment.

The reality of all of this weirdness is that you feel powerless; you want to somehow have control over the outcome...to will it to happen.  Unfortunately the only people with the power to control the outcome will be on the court in Oakland on Sunday night.

If the Cavs lose, I think we're all ready for it...we've had plenty of practice.  Plus, in forcing a Game 7, the Cavs already gave Cleveland something special - a chance to be in a winner-take-all game.  That's something that seemed impossible about a week ago when the Cavs were down 3-1.

If the Cavs win, we venture into unchartered territory (for many of us).  For anyone under the age of 50, we've never seen a winner.  I almost can't fathom what it would be like to see your team win it all...it seems like something that happens to other people; other fans in other cities.

I'm a little sad that I'm halfway around the world for Sunday night's game.  Win or lose, it's always fun to be amongst fellow fans.  And even though I just can't shake a lifetime's worth of pessimism, I sincerely hope that I'm wrong and that the Cavs finally bring a long-awaited title to Cleveland.

THE Brian Heise--EHC Columnist--Former Wahoo's on First Columnist

A championship for Cleveland would mean everything for the city and the people that label it as home. For me personally, this title... a LeBron James led Cavalier title... would mean a lot of different things. Yes, I will be ecstatic. I might even cry. But it would also fly directly in the face of the everything I said post-decision. 

It was an article I wrote for a contest on Cleveland Reboot that ultimately pulled me into the Cleveland blog scene - first with Cleveland Reboot, then to my own site (Die Hard Night), followed by Wahoo's on First and ultimately Everybody Hates Cleveland (you can read it here. https://diehardnight.com/2010/11/15/the-decision-a-final-and-different-thought/ ) I unequivocally bashed LeBron, his decision, and what I thought was him abandoning us. I talked about how we didn't need him, that we would persevere and win a title and throw a parade without him. 

Now, I find myself less than 12 hours from watching a LeBron led Cavs team bring us our first title in 50+ years. 

How did we get here? 

I honestly have no idea. But, for whatever reason the universe has brought us to this moment in time, it's been one hell of a ride. And if the Cavs pull off the impossible and win the NBA title after staring the darkness of losing in the face... I will officially never have been more wrong about something in my life. 

We did need LeBron. 

We needed LeBron to pull off the impossible within the impossible. He's going to be the one to lead the parade. And you know what? I've never been happier to possibly be wrong about something in my entire life. 

Go Cavs! 

Go Cleveland! 

Let's do this!

Rich Primo--EHC Co-Founder and Columnist

I have often imagined what it would be like to have a Cleveland team win a championship, and the older I get, the longer the drought goes on, the more I assume that, for me personally, it'll be relief more than anything. 

But what would be most important to me would be what I think a championship would mean to Northeast Ohio. These people are all my family, not related by blood but by proximity. The woes of this area, what I've seen and experienced and felt in terms of the losing - economics more than sports - makes me sad as this is my home, a home that at times felt like it might end up condemned. And so many of these people who share this home with me, I know they suffer, too. I want them to be happy. I want them to feel like winners for once, and not the butt of a joke, mocked by their own countrymen, and more so, mocked by some of the people who also live in this area. We, as NEO-ans have endured a lot together in the decades I have been alive. I would be more happy for those people than I would for myself.

I'm unable to make a prediction here because the stakes are too personal. I do believe that the odds are against the Cavaliers, having to go into the house of one of the best teams in NBA history for a winner-take-all game. But the odds were also against the Cavs getting here in the first place. When they went down 3-1, I just wanted them to win Game 5 so we didn't completely get the doors blown off of us. Now, here we are, after not only winning Game 5, but also winning Game 6, both in dominating fashion, and the possibility of winning a championship is real. 

I think the odds are against us in a big way. Win or lose, ESPN is going to remind us how much we've lost in the past, seemingly insensitive to how painful it is to relive some of the worst moments of our lives. They love to find the ugliest shots of Cleveland, abandoned buildings and overgrown lots, talking about how we lost so much industry, so much of our opportunities to have a comfortable life.  

I just hope that this re-told narrative, for once, has a happy ending.

Ed Carroll--EHC Guest Writer, Twitter Superstar, Former Columnist @ Wahoos on First

Before the series started, I had the Warriors in seven (don't bother looking that up, I don't think I ever said it on Twitter), but that was before I thought the Cavs would be coming home to Cleveland after a Game 5 loss. The script since then hasn't been just flipped, it's been completely re-written and a new lead was cast.

LeBron James is the new lead. Yeah, he was there before, and certainly as perhaps the highest-profile NBA player it's hard to say he was never the focus of these Finals. But he has made his presence felt on the brightest stage in a way no Cleveland player has ever done so before. This isn't new; even before James left for Miami in 2010 we were witnesses to his talent. But even if this isn't new, it's still incredible to see. Win or lose, it's hard to not to be in awe.

Let's be honest, a Cavs championship probably isn't going to change my life a whole lot. It would be fantastic, don't get me wrong, but other than people being generally a bit happier, there's probably not going to be a tangible benefit to a championship. But I keep coming back to James. And what he's brought to the Cavs, and by proxy, Cleveland. And I keep coming back to one of James's last tweets before his self-imposed social media blackout:
Considering the tweet was sent two months ago, it's quite prophetic now. A win in Game 7 cements a comeback never before seen in NBA history. A win tonight probably cements James's legacy as one of the greatest ever (you can argue tonight's game shouldn't affect that standing, but it probably does, regardless). 

A championship almost always means respect, but win or lose, the Cavs, and Cleveland, have already earned respect.

Samantha Bunten--NFL Content Coordinator, NBC Sports

I've always been an Indians first, Browns second, Cavs a very distant third kind of Cleveland sports fan. Because of this, some terribly selfish part of me toyed with the idea that maybe I didn't want the Cavs to win this. I wanted it to be the Indians or the Browns who ended the drought. I've never been much of a LeBron fan. Truthfully, I've never been much of a basketball fan. Thus I found myself harboring secret, treasonous thoughts about the Cavs' fate tonight. How dare they steal what, to me, seemed to rightfully belong to the Indians or the Browns? But then I realized, it's not about me. It's not even about the Indians. Or the Browns, or really, even the Cavs. This is about Cleveland. For a city nationally ignored, ridiculed, and dismissed, this is our chance to shine, to triumph, and most of all, to finally just be. This is for all of us. This is for every tired joke about a river catching on fire. This is for every East Coast snob who can't find Cleveland on a map. This is for The Shot, The Drive, The Fumble, The Pitch. It's bigger than any one fan, one team, one title. This is for Cleveland. For all who are, were, and will be, Allin216. This is for my city, your city, and the city everyone else wrote off. It's time, Cleveland. Believe.

Jim Berdysz--Cleveland Indians beat writer--Scout.com

It's a phrase I've uttered countless times growing up.

Holding a bat in one hand and a ball in the other, gently whispering each word before tossing the ball in the air.

"Bottom of the ninth...Game 7...two outs...tie game...3-2 pitch."

The result wasn't always a knock out of the park, or even a foul tip for that matter, but for that small moment before the ball connected with the bat, there was a unprecedented amount of hope that I could hit the ball absolutely anywhere.

The same hope holds true for the City of Cleveland Sunday night. It is Game 7, it is a tied series and the hope is that this is the team that is ready to swing hard to finally bring a championship to this ever hungry sports town.

Honestly, I can't wrap my head around the feeling, the sight and the sound of what it would be like to finally have a Cleveland team win it all and hold a trophy high. Not only that, but I've always wondered what the feeling would be like the season after. It would surely be different. But even with a ring, I simply don't think the name "Believeland" ever dies. It is something that will forever change the way Cleveland and it's fans look at their sports teams, yet the heavy hearts and grit that built this city will remain for a lifetime.

So, as we close in on the tipoff of Game 7, I can't help but think if this night could be the only Cleveland sports championship I see in my lifetime.

Win or lose, however, I'll be there in the middle of it, dreaming of the moment when that kid from Northeast Ohio, a villain turned prophet raises his hands high with Cleveland across his chest and the city on his back. A moment unlike any other witnessed in sports. A moment that will become a storybook ending of the misery before it, becoming immortal champions of the world.

Mike Brandyberry--Former Managing Editor and Columnist at Did the Tribe Win Last Night

I’ve heard people describe today, and everything leading up to tonight as, “Cleveland Christmas Eve,” but I don’t really feel that way.

Christmas is special, but it happens every year, and whether you have a little, or a lot, it’s a day that most celebrate and appreciate.

Tonight, and what lies ahead of us—for Cleveland sports fans—seems much bigger than Christmas at this point. I have the same butterflies and anxiety that I did the day of my wedding, only this time, I’m only 50/50 sure my bride is going to show up. I see the celebration, the emotion and the moments I’ve always wanted…but now I just need that bride to get to the alter. For Cleveland sports fans, tonight is something special that we’ll remember and embrace for the rest of our lives.

For me, I always say that Lebron James is has created more, “I Remember Where I Was Moments,” than any other athlete in my life. I’m anxious and nervous for tonight. I’m fortunate that I’ll get to watch the game with my father and my wife, and if it looks good, I’ll be able to wake up my 4-year old daughter and create a memory for her. It’s going to be a special night in my life no matter what, but obviously I’m hoping for the happiest of Cleveland sports moments.

I really just wish every Cleveland sports fan that feeling. Enjoy it, embrace it and spend it with the people that have helped make you the Cleveland fan that you are.

As Andre Knott and Zac Jackson would say, “just don’t do anything to put yourself on Deadspin.”

I really think tonight’s the night we burst into tears, hug our children and fathers, take photos with those that are most special to us and remember the people who aren’t here to be a part of it.

Tonight’s the night we all remember where we were when it happens.

Jacob McMichael--The man that caught TWO Yan Gomes blasts IN ONE GAME, and friend of EHC

The Indians are my first love when it comes to sports. Always have been, always will be. However, when LeBron joined the Cavs out of high school, I began following the Cavs as well. From 2006-2010, I watched nearly every Cavs game. However, The Decision turned me completely off to the NBA. It wasn't necessarily the LeBron backstabbing of Cleveland on national television as much as it was the culture of superstars joining up to play for a title and taking the seemingly easy road. 

Like much of Cleveland, I hated the Heat during LeBron's time there. However,  when he came back, I didn't jump back on the bandwagon. The Cavs had come to personify what I really didn't like about the NBA. So I haven't followed them closely. A large part of me is jealous that it isn't the Indians who are one game away from breaking the curse. I've even wrestled with wanting them to lose. I feel like a bit of a sports outsider in my own town. However, I know how much this will mean to my fellow Cleveland fans, so I hope the Cavs do win it all this Sunday and then I hope we have another parade this fall when the Indians beat the Cubs in the World Series. 

Dan Wismar--EHC and The Cleveland Fan Columnist--The Sports Fix Guest

Any city can have a bad half-century. It feels like longer than that though, since the Browns won it all on my 12th birthday, a game that wasn't even on TV in the home team's market. It's been way too long for me to recall any sense of elation or pride...of whatever sort it may be that a 12 year-old can experience. In that sense I'm not much different from those northeast Ohio sports fans who are too young to have ever felt it at all. There were no Cavs then, of course.

And we like to brag (if that’s what it is) that nobody ever became a Cleveland sports fan because he was a frontrunner. I want that to change. Every team needs casual fans as much as they need “fanatics”. I want this NBA championship for the Cavs because I want some Cleveland kids to become fans because they want to identify with a champion...and not because they live in the same area code as the team’s arena.

Guys of my generation all knew Cleveland kids who were Celtics fans...or Lakers fans...because of the natural tendency to want to be associated with winners. I hated that.

What changes for me if the Cavs are NBA champions? Not much, really. I still go to work the next morning. And the great human evils that exist in the world aren’t diminished in the slightest. With a disappointing half-century of sports fanhood comes a certain perspective on the relative importance of sports, I suppose. So I find myself wanting this championship far less for me than for other people.

I want it for LeBron himself...because nobody wants it more than he does, and his legacy hangs in the balance. I want it to be a positive one.

I want it for Bernie Kosar, strangely enough. Because 30 years ago, he was the last homegrown hero who got agonizingly close to achieving his childhood dream, and getting that statue on the stadium grounds...only to fall short.

But mostly I want it for today’s young people...so they never have to buy into the cynical, negative “Only in Cleveland” narrative that infects so many locals. An NBA title would be a good start toward purging that attitude from the area forever.

Steve Orbanek--EHC Founder & Columnist--Former IBI Columnist

Whenever a Cleveland sports team gets this close to a championship, the same narrative appears.

"Cleveland will get just close enough to break your heart."

"It's still Cleveland. Anything that can go wrong, likely will go wrong."

"I think Cleveland could have a chance, but we've been here before."

On Sunday, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to end that narrative.Forever.

Let's think about what has happened already in these NBA Finals. The Cavaliers were down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors, the winningest regular season team in NBA history. This is the team that broke a 20-year record in eclipsing the Chicago Bulls' 72 wins, and let's face it, that record seemed untouchable.

Plus, let's face it. Aside from game three, the Warriors made the Cavaliers look silly through the first four games of this series. How did you feel after the team facing a 3-1 deficit? Let me guess, something along the lines of the narrative described above?

What the Cavaliers have already done is historic. Previously, only two teams who were down 3-1 in the NBA Finals came back to force a game seven. No team has ever come back to win it all, but that's what the Cavaliers could do on Sunday.

Down 3-1 in the series, it was easily to say, "Well, this is typical Cleveland," but everything that's transpired since then has been far from the norm. A victory tomorrow proves that curses are nothing but a myth that long-suffering sports fans use to console themselves. It will also prove that LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of all time. That's not hyperbole, either. A win tomorrow ensures that he steals that crown from Michael Jordan.

Beyond that, on a personal level, a win tomorrow will make me smile. Perhaps even cry. I'll think about my great grandparents, who came over to settle in Berea from Ukraine. I'll think of how every generation of this family has spent so many years rooting for the Browns, Indians and Cavs. I think I'm a long-suffering Cleveland fan, but I'm only 28. For the rest of my family, this win means so much more, and I can think of no better way for it to be delivered than with an awe-inspiring performance from the King himself, LeBron James.

Joe Cuneo--EHC Columnist

I’ve always held that the reward is more in the journey than in the destination.
While being a Cleveland sports fan certainly tests this ideal, I still think it’s what makes sports—at its core—a perfect metaphor for life. You’re going to win some and lose some, but if you can’t stop and smell the roses along the way, you’re not doing it right.

Would a win Sunday be the shower that ends the maligned Cleveland championship drought?

It would be the rain that befell Kansas and Oklahoma in the fall of 1939.

And would it be the cherry on top of a great season and a comeback for the ages in the NBA Finals?

It would be the cherry, the hot fudge and the Spanish Peanuts.

But regardless of whether the Cavaliers complete what’s already a historic comeback, it’s been a great ride. Playing witness-- once again-- to LeBron James’ wizardry on the court and the Cavs resiliency in the face of defeat should have already shown us the true fighting spirit of Cleveland—the one that makes it the true city of champions.

Over the years, we’ve heard ad nauseam about the drive, the fumble, the decision, the pitch (whatever the 1997 World Series is called) etc. And while these have certainly shaped our psyche towards the Browns, Indians and Cavs, they shouldn’t take anything away from the great moments that have taken place as well.

I often refer to the 1990s Indians as “Camelot.” Seeing the Indians playing in a beautiful new ballpark on a national stage in front of boisterous sellout crowds night after night as a kid was enough to make me a Cleveland fan for life.

An inferiority complex played no part in it. 

That was one of my biggest beefs I had with the ESPN documentary Believeland. Besides rehashing the familiar ESPN woe-is-me Cleveland narrative, it unfairly tried to tie Cleveland’s championship drought to its perceived inferiority as a city.

And while the show certainly did do a good job of representing civic pride in the face of such sports futility, Clevelanders don’t have to be proud of their city in spite of nor because of their teams repeated failures to win a title.

Joe Gerberry--EHC Guest Columnist

It’s inevitably the Cleveland in me to get hyped about the chances to win a title while maintaining the seed of doubt in the back of my brain that exists as a protective shield from the larger-than-I’d-care-to-admit possibility that they blow Game 7 in Oakland. They have looked as good as GSW looked breaking the win record over these last few games as they tie the series and it gives confidence to the team and its fans. However, we will inevitably see the montage (and we all know the montage by now) that causes Cleveland fans to twitch like a dog who was hit growing up and it will bring up doubts again.

I do think that the adjustments made by Ty Lue and his management of rotations/lineups that are crazy effective coupled with the injuries that alluded GSW’s rise will bring a title home to Cleveland finally. However, don’t be surprised that if Cleveland is down big at the half, we the fans start flinching and running for the remotes/exits. We’ve seen how this story goes and it ever changes when you’re a fan of a team in the 216.

Brian Rosen--LandLoyalty.com--EHC Guest Columnist

In 2004, something happened that changed my entire perspective on sports. In October of that year, the tortured Boston Red Sox rose from the abyss to reel off 8 straight wins to win their first World Series in 86 years. It wasn't them winning  that impacted me so greatly, it was how they won. Even the most hardcore of Sox fans had to have given up on the season after their team trailed the arch-rival Yankees three games to nothing in the ALCS. The deficit did not occur in a movie, it was real and the series was a buffalo chicken wrap. Yet, perhaps aided by allegedly taking shots (alcohol not basketball) before Game Four of the ALCS, Boston pulled off the greatest comeback in baseball history. Two things became crystal clear to me at that time: Anything is possible in sports and the city of Cleveland is meant to break our own curse in a similarly improbable fashion. 

Since then I have told friends on numerous occasions that when our run to the title begins, it will immediately be preceded by monumental adversity. I never banked on making history like the Red Sox but I expected the title to come after collective hopelessness. While I can't speak for all Cavs fans, I know that I am one of a majority of fans that began accepting inevitable defeat after the Warriors took a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. After a long year of waiting to return to an NBA Finals that we knew we were going to play in, it seemed that our dreams were days away from yet again dashed. Every team that has ever been down 3-1 in The Finals has lost...

We don't need to completely rehash the fun part of this story but our sliver of an opening came when the NBA justifiably suspended the leagues dirtiest player and likely biggest prick. In the two games since, we have witnessed an arguably unrivaled level of excitement for Cleveland basketball fans. We have been awe struck by the emerging Kyrie Irving, the hustle of Tristan Thompson and the dominance of LeBron James. The fairy tale ending that our hard-working and evolving city deserves is now within our grasp. 
We were asked to predict what will happen when writing our opinions on the Finals but I cannot follow that direction. My anxiety level and superstitious nature will not allow me to go on the record that the Cavs will triumph after 52 years of misery and heartbreak. Sorry Jim, I treasure this opportunity to get my opinions out on this outstanding site but I can't go there. 
Having said that, our Cavs hoisting the Larry O'Brein trophy on June 19th, 2016is 100% the ending that many of us have dreamed of. I've always been desperate to win but deep down I always hoped it could be exactly like this. The opponent is equal parts hate-able and incredible. The circumstances surrounding this comeback would be jointly historical and mesmerizing. The team itself is the kind of united, fun-loving crew that any city would be proud to call their own. 
Will we have a 2004 Red Sox-like finish? We can all envision this reality that has consumed Cleveland fans for generations. It FINALLY feels like the right time and circumstances for OUR championship and I'm not afraid to write those words. Just don't make me predict it, not after 52-years of a metaphorical 52-card deck being stacked against our beloved Browns, Tribe and Cavs! 

Danny Madden--Columnist, Did the Tribe Win Last Night--EHC Podcaster

Whether you're a basketball fan or not, the Cavs just being in the finals is huge for all of us. This city is dying for some type of major championship, and everyone involved knows this. With the Cavs being in a spot where they could actually end this drought, it's going to be more of a sigh of relief than just a celebration. We don't have to hear about how the city hasn't won anything in so long. It's going to become a conversation now of "when are we going to win our next one?" That's pretty cool. I know that I'm not the most dedicated Cavs fan in the world, but being able to see any of the Cleveland teams win a national championship would be exciting for me. The Cavs right now are kind of special though. Growing up as an Akron kid, seeing LeBron do his thing and represent a city that close to my heart, makes this championship a bit more special. I have a good feeling about the game tomorrow, I really think the Cavs are going to be able to pull it off and put a dagger into the heart of the Warriors.

Jim Pete--EHC Columnist

As a kid, my first sporting moments were vivid memories of the 1970's Cleveland Indians and Cavaliers. My Dad and I would lay on our living room floor, listening on our old Magnovox Astro-Sonic High Fidelity cabinet record player/AM-FM radio. If the baseball game was on, I'd grab four frisbees and place them in a diamond. If it was a basketball game, I'd grab two round clothes baskets and place them on either side of the room. During commercials, I would spend every second re-enacting those games.

Of course, the Miracle of Richfield were at the heart of those memories, but really, it was those players. Austin Carr and Jim Brewer and Jim Chones and Campy Russell and Foots Walker and Nate Thurmond, and especially Bingo Smith. On the baseball diamond, it was Charlie Spikes and Frank Robinson and Rico Carty and Dennis Eckersley and Buddy Bell.

In 1976, the Cavs lost to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the Indians were over .500. You know, as a kid, you don't think too much about titles. You just enjoy the pageantry of it all...the grass of the field...the sound of Richfield...the jerseys and the afros and the high socks and the red and the crooked C.

But as you get older, things change. It's less about the colors and sounds, and more about the winning and losing. I don't need to dive into that, other than to say that in Cleveland, winning didn't come often, or easily, and when it did, well, it never ended well.

That's life.

I don't live my life daily thinking about championships, at least not consciously, but whenever it appears a championship can't be won, it weighs on me. I'm sure if you're in your 40's or older, you've thought, "I'm never going to get to see it."


I'm sure if you're younger, you've thought that.


So today, I'm thinking of all of you, the readers and fans and fathers and sons, mothers and daughters that have followed our sports teams with every ounce of being. I can only think of LeBron's words when he announced he was coming home, the same month that I returned home to the North Coast.


"In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have."

So have we LeBron...so have we. We've earned this, now go get it.


Let's.


Go.


Cavs.


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