There is comfort in familiarity…
And for a Cleveland sports fan, there is familiarity in pain.
This isn’t a recap of the Cavaliers championship. It’s a look at that night through the eyes of a Cleveland fan. But more importantly than being a Cleveland fan, I’m a Clevelander.
As I sat on my couch getting ready for game 7 of the NBA Finals at the end of my first Father’s Day, my son asleep in his crib, and my wife on the adjacent couch, I felt comfortable. I wasn’t worried about the pain of losing a Game 7 and a championship. I knew that pain. I was familiar with that pain. And so, I was comfortable with it. Honestly, I was a little too comfortable.
I knew how I would feel if we lost. I knew what I would do. I was at peace.
I would watch the clock dwindle to zero, take a deep breath and stare at the ground. I wouldn’t be mad, but I would be upset. I would wonder if we ran into a dynasty with the Warriors. Off-season trades were already going through my head and what type of move we could make with Kevin Love to beat the Warriors next year. I would finish my drink, shut down Twitter and the TV, and take myself to bed.
As painful as that sounds, I was comfortable with it. Again, it was familiar, and there is comfort in familiarity.
But as the fourth quarter began I moved the edge of my seat. Most of the rest of the game was watched there or standing. I sipped bourbon and refreshed Twitter in between plays, and as the Cavs battled back and forth it became apparent that we might actually pull this out.
As the clock struck zero, I stood up with my hands in the air. I looked at my wife, and I didn’t know what to do.
This was a new feeling. This was winning.
Am I supposed to yell? Should I run around the block screaming? Do I drive around the neighborhood honking my horn blasting the 1980’s Cavs song?
I walked over to my wife and hugged and kissed her. With a tear streaming down my cheek I told her “congratulations, you’re a champion.” We are all champions.
That night I shed tears of joy for this city. The city that I call home. The city that I vehemently defend against hack sports writers that have never been here and don't know a damn thing about this city and its people. The city that deserves this championship more than any other city. The city that found comfort in pain. I love this city.
This was a new feeling. That night we became champions. We handled that responsibility with excitement, respectability and class. We high-fived, hugged, and clanked glasses with total strangers in celebration. But we were never really total strangers. We’re Clevelanders. And now I can find comfort in knowing that so much of the world was watching us become the champions that we were always ready to be.