1997. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was game 7 of the World Series. I was watching it in the basement of my home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, nervous, thinking, "This is it." We were up one in the top of the ninth inning, the Indians, were 2 outs away from winning the World Series and breaking the "curse" that had haunted Cleveland sports for decades. And then, it happened. "It" being the horror I had only heard about from my older family members, seen on ESPN, or read about in the papers. The thing I would come to witness again as I got older. The "IT" I refer to, is the heart breaking feeling of watching your team lose a championship.
The Indians would go on to blow the lead, at home, and in for that, Cleveland sports fans everywhere got to watch the Florida Marlin's celebrate winning a championship, IN CLEVELAND. To this day I've never really followed the Indian's, nor baseball. That was the second time I was old enough to remember a Cleveland sports team close to a championship (the prior being in ‘95 against the Atlanta Braves) but that was the first time I had to feel that heart break. That sickening feeling that almost makes you want to puke. However, it wasn't the last. I would feel that same sickening feeling two more times in my lifetime. 10 years later the Cleveland Cavaliers would be swept by the San Antonio Spurs in game 4 of the 2007 NBA Finals. Again, they would celebrate on our home court. In the 2015 NBA season, my Cavs lost in 6 games to the Golden State Warriors. For a third time, the opposing team would enjoy the sweet taste of celebrating a championship on our floor.
As much as I hate to say it, that might have been the most bitter of the three. Our team was down two NBA All-Stars, and the consensus around social media and the sports world was, "No excuses". As a sports fan, I myself, had to chew and swallow the bitter pill that indeed, no matter the circumstances, the Golden State Warriors were the 2015 NBA Champions, and the Cavs weren't. That was reality. I carried that bitterness in my heart for the whole 2015-2016 season. It ate it me and tormented me for the whole 82 game regular season. In my heart I KNEW, if we were healthy in last year's finals, the outcome would be different, but we weren't. The only thing I had my eyes set on was a rematch in 2016.
A win in the Finals wouldn't mean as much if we were to beat another team. I wanted the Warriors. Healthy. No excuses.
I got what I wanted.
The Golden State Warriors were the defending champions. Steph Curry was the league MVP (their vote, not mine) two years in a row, and was the first unanimous MVP EVER. The Warriors also had the 2015 Finals MVP in Andre Iguodala. The Warriors broke the regular season winning record by one game over the Spurs. 73-9. Still...I wasn't worried. I wanted to play GS healthy. I wanted a fair rematch. I got what I wanted. This time. Still not worried. The Warriors gained a 3- 1 series lead. We were facing the odds. No team had ever come back in the finals down 3--1. BUT... the wake, that moment when LBJ & Kyrie realized, "NO ONE ON THE PLANET CAN GUARD ME!" (THAT’S ANOTHER ARTICLE FOR LATER). 3-2, we still alive. 3-3, it’s a series. Game 7. The Block, The Shot. The End.
So yes, this is OUR championship. Ours. For everyone that has ever felt the "it,” Cleveland. It’s ours