It had to happen like this. It had to happen after going down 2-0. They had to be the first team to ever win a NBA Finals after falling behind 3-1. It had to happen on the road. It had to happen against a 73-win team. This is the way it had to play out for the Cavaliers to win the NBA championship and end the 52-year title drought in Cleveland.
Cleveland sports fans know all too well about sadness and heartbreak. “The Drive,” “The Fumble,” and too many more to list. And honestly, that’s not what it’s about anymore. Last night, the Cavaliers won the NBA championship as LeBron James delivered on his promise to bring a title to his hometown. The man who has given so much time and time again, put the city of Cleveland on his back and brought it home. For me, a 26-year-old writer who grew up in Cleveland and now lives in Brooklyn, the decision to come back to Cleveland for Games 6 and 7 was a no-brainer. Even with the long odds, it just felt like the right thing to do.
To be in the city to watch the best Cavs team of all-time was just something that couldn’t be missed. No matter what the odds were, this time felt different. It felt like LeBron wouldn’t let them lose. It felt like the curse was finally going to end. Of course, with Cleveland, no matter how good something might seem, there’s always a sense that doom could be right around the corner. Even last night, as I watched the game with thousands of Cavs fans in downtown Cleveland, there was a feeling that it could all come crashing down. Even after Kyrie hit what would be the game-winning shot over Steph Curry, there was still a feeling that something could go wrong. How will they take this from us? That’s what years of heartbreak has done to us. But not last night. Not this time. It was finally our moment. Kyrie’s shot, LeBron’s block, and Kevin Love locking up Steph Curry, it all happened. Those are moments that every Cavs fan will remember forever. The stuff of legends. For the first time in over half a century, everything broke our way.
Bars were so packed that they actually ran out of beer. At one point, fans took over a fire truck in the middle of the street and nobody seemed to care. The Cleveland police even joked about it on Twitter.
Immediately after the game, I didn’t know what to do. I was with some of my closest friends and even when we were celebrating—I still smell like champagne, in case you were wondering—we didn’t know how to react. We were always ready to lose. That’s what Cleveland has taught us. That’s what we were raised on. But last night, we won.
I’ve never felt anything like that before. Walking through the streets of Cleveland after the game was the most surreal moment of my life. There was no crazy rioting, but instead there were just thousands of people smiling, blasting music, and enjoying the moment. There were people of all ages out, walking the streets in disbelief. Generations came together for something special. It was an overall sense of happiness in the streets. Pure joy. People were crying, and I was as well. A rush of emotions took over the city. Bars were so packed that they actually ran out of beer. At one point, fans took over a fire truck in the middle of the street and nobody seemed to care. The Cleveland police even joked about it on Twitter. Someone tweeted that they heard on the local police scanner that the crowds weren’t that wild, but just happy. And that’s exactly what it was. Unfiltered happiness mixed with shock and awe. Where else would you see a grown man dancing in a speedo on top of a RV blasting Bone Thugs-N-Harmony? Only in Cleveland. Only after shattering the curse.
It was like a movie in the streets, and honestly, could this story have been told any better?
It was our time. The entire experience is one that will stick with people for years to come. And no matter what happens in the future, everyone from Cleveland is now a champion.