Being from Cleveland is unlike being from anywhere else in America. There is no glitz and glamour. There are no golden streets, you won’t run into a celebrity at the gas station, being a bottle girl is not lucrative. It’s cold, it’s hard, it’s gritty and tough. There aren’t many imports. People in Cleveland are from Cleveland and have been there for generations.
I could go on and on, about how the lake was so polluted that it caught on fire, or how the city is #2 in divorce, #5 in unhappiness, #10 in violent crime, and #25 in suicide. I could talk about how 100,000 people have migrated elsewhere since 2007 (including me), or how Forbes ranked Cleveland as the #1 saddest city in America, but I won’t.
I’m twenty six years old and I’ve been a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers for as long as I can remember. Smush Parker,Darius Miles, Ricky Davis cavs. Black jerseys with the baby blue and orange trim cavs. Catching the Rapid to the movies and “Tower City” before walking through the tunnel to get $5 tickets to the game, Cavs.
The point of this article is to explain the magnitude of this championship to those who aren’t from Cleveland.
My home town is a very tough place. There isn’t much for the kids to do on a Friday night. The neighborhoods are plagued by gangs and violence, but unlike other places, there arent many sunny days. The city of Cleveland has all the connotations of every other major city with none of the benefits. There’s no Statue of Liberty in Cleveland. No Ferris wheel or American Delis. No Palm trees, no South Beach, no Hollywood Sign, no walk of fame.
The Cavaliers are our monument. LeBron is our Statue of Liberty. Every time the Cavs come on Clevelanders get a break from the chaos and are able to see one of our own prosper. I’ve seen grown men cry after Cleveland sports losses because of legitimate emotional investment. Sports is what Clevelanders pride themselves on, and no one has done more for us that King James. LeBron James sent kids to college, created jobs, boosted the economy and lowered the crime rate.
There are politicians who don’t have that type of impact.
They can erect the statue of LeBron now to be honest. What other player has demolished a 52-Year championship drought in sports? What other player has guaranteed a trip to the NBA Finals for every team he’s played on? The last championship that the city saw was a Pre-Super Bowl Era NFL Championship in 1964.
He turned the worst team in the league into a playoff contender just a year after being drafted. Four years of the best basketball Cleveland has ever seen. A soul crushing sweep in 07′. Three years of basketball better than what we thought was the best, just to end in heartbreak to the Celtics and Magic. A devastating departure to join a super team in Miami which resulted in 4 trips to the finals and two rings. More heartbreak for Clevelanders. A comeback season in for the ages that led to an NBA Finals appearance. Love and Kyrie go down, LeBron takes JR Smith and a handful of pebbles 6 games to lose. More heartbreak. Finally, 2016. He rallies the team from Down 3-1 against the reigning champs to close them out in 7, on the road. That’s story book. That’s the shit legends are made of. The prodigal son returned and brought one home for the city.
Imagine if Jordan left Chicago after the 3Peat and went back to Charlotte and brought them a ring.
It isn’t just basketball. LeBron proved to the world that we aren’t a bunch of losers. That we aren’t the butt of America or the mistake on the lake. We aren’t cursed or doomed. For that?