The 52 year drought without a championship in the city of Cleveland, dubbed ‘The Curse’ is finally over, thanks to a kid from Akron, Ohio. That kids name is LeBron James. To put the length of the championship drought into perspective: LeBron James’s MOTHER was not born the last time the city of Cleveland celebrated a championship.
It’s hard to imagine that a team with one of the greatest players to ever pick up a basketball was deemed an underdog, but this was the case with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Losing 3-1 to the greatest regular season team of all time, you would be forgiven if you though the championship drought was going to continue. You would not have been the only one.
But all time great performances in Game 5 by Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James, followed by another all time great performance by LeBron James in Game 6, the Cavaliers became only the 3rd team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after being 3-1 down. But even then, Game 7 on the road, at the Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors had only lost 2 times during the entire regular season, the Cavaliers were still the underdogs.
Then we had Game 7. One of the best, most tense games I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. It was a close game throughout, but there are 2 moments that will live forever in NBA and Cleveland history. First, with 1:51 left and tied at 89-89, LeBron James with probably the best and most important block of his illustrious career on an seemingly easy lay up for Andre Iguodala swung all the momentum towards Cleveland. Do not be surprised if for years to come, this play is referenced by NBA fans as ‘The Block.’
Then, still tied at 89-89 with 53 seconds to go. A likely yet unlikely hero steps up. Kyrie Irving. He dribbles and dances in front of unanimous MVP Steph Curry before he leans back and sinks a dagger 3 Pointer. The only shot I have seen more clutch than this was Ray Allen in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in 2013. It was that good. At the start of the season, it was said that Cleveland would not win with Kyrie Irving as the point guard. Kyrie Irving proved all his doubters wrong. At 24 years old he established himself as an elite player, who doesn’t fold under pressure, but most importantly, he established himself as an NBA champion.
53 seconds later, the celebrations begun. Self proclaimed King James could not contain his emotion as he fell into his teammates arms and then onto the floor, in tears. Anybody watching, basketball fan or not, LeBron James fan or not, could not help but feel some type of emotion seeing him like this.
The praises poured in. Jay-Z, President Obama, Mark Cuban and Justin Timberlake are just a few of the people that congratulated LeBron via social media. But you can tell this didn’t mean much to him. He didn’t do this for them, he didn’t even do this for himself. He did it for the city he grew up in: Cleveland. His promise was to deliver a championship and end the heartache. And he delivered.
A kid from Akron, Ohio covered Sports Illustrated at age 17 with the caption: ‘The Chosen One.’ At age 18, A kid from Akron, Ohio was the number one draft pick in 2003 for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A kid from Akron, Ohio took the Cavaliers to their first ever NBA Finals and was swept 4-0. A kid from Akron, Ohio infamously made ‘The Decision’ in 2010 and left the Cavaliers and ‘Took his talents to South Beach.’
A kid from Akron, Ohio went to Miami, learned how to become a leader, a winner and a two time champion. Then in 2014, A kid from Akron, Ohio announced he was ‘Coming Home’ with one goal: To win a championship for Cleveland. Within the next 2 years, A kid from Akron, Ohio built a championship calibre team around himself with a young, exciting rookie head coach. Then, in the 2016 NBA Finals, A kid from Akron, Ohio, took everything he learned from his so called ‘betrayal’, led and rallied his team to become the first team ever to overcome a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit and win an NBA Championship, against one of the greatest NBA teams ever, who, at the helm, have an NBA superstar named Steph Curry, who is also: A kid from Akron, Ohio, who in fact,was born in the same hospital as LeBron James.
It’s a fairy-tale story. If you gave the story to Hollywood they would reject it, claiming that the ending is too perfect. But this is not Hollywood, it’s Cleveland. And this is not a movie. It’s real life. LeBron James’s slogan throughout his career has been: Earned Not Given. And he has earned everything he has received. Whispers of ‘Greatest Player Ever’ have already started just one day after the Cavaliers championship but they’re justified:
At Age 31:
Michael Jordan – 3 Championships, 3 Finals MVPs, 3 Regular Season MVPs
LeBron James – 3 Championships, 3 Finals MVPs, 4 Regular Season MVPs
It’s something to think about.
But for now, we let Cleveland celebrate. 52 years without a championship in any sport.
Now: Days without a championship for the city of Cleveland: 1.
All thanks to A kid from Akron, Ohio.