The rest of the season was in the books for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the only thing that had any relevance now were the Finals. It was the rematch of the century, both teams were healthy so there was absolutely no room for excuses. The Cleveland Cavaliers were facing off against the Golden State Warriors for the second year in a row to fight for the Larry O’Brian trophy, championship rings, and a banner to hang in the rafters forever. I worked for the Cavaliers the past two seasons so I was there when they lost in 2015, as well as being there this past season, and I can honestly say the atmosphere as a whole felt different these Finals. In 2015, when the Cavs lost in the NBA Finals, you could feel them give up in game six. LeBron played at the highest level but just couldn’t beat the Warriors without star point-guard Kyrie Irving and big man Kevin Love. This year, the chemistry was there, the passion was doubled by the fans and people had hope. After going down 3–1 to start the series, people did begin to worry, but Cleveland fans didn’t give up. When Cleveland won in Golden State, it took a while for it to actually sink in. Fans celebrated because they knew it was the right thing to do, but it was so surreal. Emotions were going crazy and it wasn’t until the parade downtown that I really started to believe this was all happening. I even got to be a part of the parade because I had been a ball boy and worked directly with the team. Walking through downtown, surrounded by an estimated 1.3 million people was breathtaking. It was difficult to take in the moment, everyone there was a true fan, they stuck with the team throughout heartbreak and rebuild years. Cleveland was on top of the world, and all worries that people had were swept under the rug for this historic time.
After fifty-three extremely long and stressful years, Cleveland is finally a “City of Champions”. The Cavs championship run started on June, 2nd 2016. This is where my story begins; I was lucky enough to be a ball boy for the past two seasons and witnessed some amazing historic moments. Although, I was there for the upsets too, like when the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Finals in Cleveland in game six. I was there for the entire playoff run this year and I have been to every game, preseason included, the past two seasons. Being at each of these games and being able to watch the best players in the world perform at the highest level every night was something I used to dream of as a kid, but could never imagine that it would become a reality. Some of the most memorable games were LeBron’s return, Kobe’s farewell, and Kyrie’s fifty-five-point game. Although, there was no game that could compare to the game six win in Cleveland this year in the Finals. Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavs home court, was louder than I had ever heard, and the game was one of the most exciting event I had ever been to. The dream became reality on June, 19th 2016. The Cavaliers won the championship and ruined the Warriors historic season.
All Cavs fans will remember what happened in June for the rest of their lives because of the incredible task that the team had to overcome. The Cleveland Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to ever come back from a 3–1 deficit in the NBA Finals to win the Championship. They forced a game seven that took place in Golden State where they knocked off the reigning champs. Cavs fans emotions were indescribable. The game wasn’t in Cleveland but there was thousands of people downtown to cheer on their team. Cleveland fans had embraced the playoff slogan of “All in” and gave the team all the hope they could. Cleveland sports were finally relevant again, LeBron James and the Cavaliers had put us back on the map.
Another memory that Cavs fans share is the return of LeBron James. When LeBron left Cleveland in 2010 people were upset, and confused. He told the fans he wasn’t leaving until he won a championship for Cleveland, so people felt betrayed. There was a lot of speculation the summer he became a free agent because there were rumors that he was coming back to Cleveland but fans didn’t want to get their hopes up. A lot of people also didn’t know if they even wanted to forgive him for what he had done. When LeBron announced he was coming back he posted a picture on Instagram with the words, “I’m coming home” on it, and Sports Illustrated published an interview they had with him on their website. All the sports networks were blowing up about the big news and fans were thrilled. LeBron James is not only a basketball player, he has helped bring this community closer together because of his love for the city and leadership traits.
Besides the shared love for the game, Cavs fans are who they are for many reasons. A real Cavs fan will watch the game on FOX even it’s a national televised game because they love hearing Austin Carr and Fred McLeod commentate the game. This duo has made some of the most memorable phrases in Cleveland sports history as a whole. The thrill of Austin Carr’s voice when he screams, “He throws the hammer down!” gets fans off their feet even if they’re at home. Austin Carr also has fun nicknames for almost every player which includes, “Uncle Drew” for Kyrie Irving, and “The King” for LeBron James. It’s always fun to listen to the two commentate the game because you can feel how serious they take it and how much they care about the team and city.
My time spent with the Cavs has brought me closer to many people around me because so many people want to hear the stories I have, and love to then tell others around them. It’s a great feeling to help spread happiness by simply talking about something that you have in common with someone else. Everywhere I go, everyone I meet, people want to listen about my time with the Cavs because they get to hear about things that they couldn’t anywhere else about the team. This is something that is very important in my life and will always be a part of me. I can’t wait to tell my own kids and grand kids about the exciting times I had, and I can’t wait to watch their faces glow up in amazement. I definitely want to continue to share this connection with others because it’s something that so many Cleveland natives take serious.