The City of Cleveland, Ohio, awoke Friday morning to find that the sun had indeed risen, that the city was still intact and there was not a stream of locusts flying out of the doors of the Quicken Loans Arena, the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. As they started to wipe the sleep from their eyes, they realized, their lives were no better or worse, after former Cavaliers star LeBron James won his first NBA Championship with the team he had deserted them for the Miami Heat.
Cavaliers fans watched Thursday night as their greatest fear came to fruition before their eyes and when it came right down to it, they realized it was truly no big deal. The apocalypse had not arrived, it was just another Friday in Northeast Ohio; now it was time to turn the page, forget the past and start to concentrate on their own rebuilding franchise. Instead of obsessing about a player who chose to take his talents elsewhere; they can now focus on their team finally winning that elusive Championship. Something that James for all his talents; never gave them.
Although I was born and raised outside of Boston, I call the city of Cleveland “My Adopted Home Town” as I lived there for 14 years and covered all three pro-sports teams for 11 years as a radio reporter. I know too well, the hunger that Cleveland sports fans have to win a Title by any of their three teams, as it is approaching 50 years, since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964. There have been many lean years for all three organizations, however the seasons that have hurt the most, have been the ones that Cleveland teams have come so close to winning, only to fall short of the mark. Among the first words that children of Northeast Ohio sports fans learn to say are two phrases; “Wait Till Next Year” and “Only In Cleveland.”
Instead of Cleveland fans gnashing their teeth and ripping their clothes; they should look at James winning the Title as a positive; because it now allows them to close the chapter; it is the closure they have sought. Now it is time to look forward to what “Uncle Duke,” otherwise known as Rookie Of The Year Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, possibly Alonzo Gee and their two first round picks in this month’s NBA Draft will do in the upcoming campaign.
Cavaliers fans have faced tough times throughout the history of the franchise and seen their team come back stronger than before. The Cavaliers survived the Ted Stepien years and came back stronger with Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance, Hot-Rod Williams and Mark Price. They survived the Jim Paxson years, including the terrible 2002-2003 campaign that got them LeBron James as the first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.
Mike Brown took that team to the NBA Finals for the first time since the club entered the Association. We have witnessed how quickly the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to rise from a Lottery team to representing the Western Conference in this year’s Finals. Byron Scott is one of the brightest young coaches in the NBA and has a track record of winning as a player, as a key piece of the “Showtime” Lakers back in the eighties. With some smart moves from General Manager Chris Grant, Cleveland could be right back in the thick of things before too long. Say good-bye to the past Cleveland and start to embrace the future.