Is this all a dream? I’m going to wake up any second, right? I mean Cleveland is a World Champion once again, after 52 years. It’s been a week and yet I still think I’m going to wake up from this dream and the Cavs will still be down 3-1 and on the brink of elimination. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to make sure this is real. Last Sunday I remember walking into my weekend job and telling everyone I was working with, “We got this!”. Was it overconfidence after the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the series at 3-3? Or was it for the first time as a fan whether it was false hope or not, I truly believed it was our moment that night. That evening I went downtown with friends from work, we got into Downtown Cleveland at 5:30 to see the whole city was jammed with people ready to go for Game 7. We spent the next 2 1/2 hours walking around from The Clevelander, to the madhouse on East 4th St, and ended up watching the game at Barrio standing at the bar with everyone jammed together there to watch the game.
Then out of nowhere it seemed… god bless you, JR Smith. Coming out of Halftime it seemed the tables had turned, it suddenly was the Cavs who were coming out firing and the Warriors seemed lackadaisical. Once JR got the Warriors lead down to 1, I started to feel that confidence of winning this game was back. The Cavs by the end of the 3rd had cut the deficit down to 1 and I looked at my friends saying, “Win the 4th Quarter…that’s all we need to do”.
That 4th Quarter was unlike anything I experienced in my life. You were on the edge of your seat the whole time and it felt like two Boxing legends were trading blows back and forth and it was a test of who would fall first. With around 3:00 to go, Steph Curry had a wide open 3 to break open the game and really start to put away the Cavs…he missed! The Cavs at the same time were struggling to make a shot as well and the Warriors got another shot. This time it was the red hot Draymond Green who got a good look and once again…he missed! At this moment, I sensed something different was going down.
Think about it. Normally the script for, “Old Cleveland” would be the Warriors would’ve made one of those 2 shots, the Cavs would answer and right at the end, the Warriors would make the big shot and win the game. This script wasn’t happening and for me it became a question of who would take that dagger shot for the Cavs. As we all know that man would end up being Kyrie Irving, who got the 1-on-1 matchup with Steph Curry and buried that 3 with about 1:00 to go. Man… Barrio and everyone surrounding the restaurant (you should’ve seen outside the windows of Barrio!) exploded.
At this point I called my father, who I watched Game 7 in 1997 with and cried next to him until I fell asleep. How fitting it was to fall on Fathers Day and I called and the one thing I wanted to do throughout this playoff run was to tell him, “IT’S OVER”. I got through and as I told him, I broke down into tears. Understand, my Dad isn’t a huge sports fan (let alone a Basketball fan), but he wanted to see this drought end. He was alive to see the Browns win the last Championship back in 1964. I told him, “It’s over Dad, we did it” I was crying the whole time and I asked to talk to my mother as well.
Again it was fitting on Father’s Day this occurred. I prayed from Game 5 on to my Zayde (Hebrew for Grandfather), who passed away in 2002 to give the Cavs the heart and strength to pull this off. Understand this about my Zayde, he is the definition of a Warrior (not a GS one), he had heart problems all his life, had countless heart attacks and close calls. He always fought and won until the rest of his body shut down. When he passed it wasn’t because of his heart failing, it was the rest of his body shutting down. He taught me was strength is and I prayed for the Cavs to have that strength. I told my mother this because in a way, although my Zayde was from Detroit, he wanted me to experience a Championship and on Father’s Day I believe his spirit was there in the Cavs, giving them the strength to pull this MiraCLE off.
I got texts afterwards from friends out of town saying if Cleveland can win a Championship, so can my team. In one night, Cleveland became the joke of the sporting world to the ray of hope to every snakebitten franchise in sports. It’s truly unbelievable how one Championship can change the outlook for a city. Anyone who doubted it before, can’t deny it now.
So one week later, I ask myself, this was a dream right? No it wasn’t a dream, this really happened. Our time arrived and we got to live what a lot of fans thought they’d never see. This week I’m not going to forget for the rest of my life. There aren’t that many fanbases that will experience the same sense of euphoria that Cleveland fans felt. For most fans in LA, Chicago, NY, Florida, Texas they probably get a World Champion once every couple of years. It’s almost routine to them. Cleveland waited 52 years for this moment and like myself, still fans don’t believe this is real.
Hey Cleveland, this is real! The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship. Forget about the past and believe brighter days are right around the corner for this city. Who knows Cleveland…you want to do this all over again in October? Because now that we’ve had one, let’s keep this positivity going so we can experience this all over again.
So this is what it feels like to win a World Championship? Man, this is the greatest feeling in the world. It was well worth the wait.