100 days of hoops, hardwood

100 Days of Hoops: 52 Years

There’s one sports town in the United States that loves to talk about disappointment. Welcome to Cleveland, Ohio.  Where disappointment is part of the religion within all of its sports teams.  According to ESPN in 2004, Cleveland was called “the most tortured sports city in America”.

Harsh, but let’s look at what’s happened since they won the 1964 NFL Championship.

Here’s a super dry and grainy video in storytelling format of the Browns winning the 1964 NFL Championship, two years before the Super Bowl became the championship-deciding game:

Okay, so Cleveland won.  Nothing to complain about here.  Other than that lone championship, seems like Cleveland sports hasn’t been relevant since 1981.

In 1981, the Browns played against the Raiders in a second-round playoff game: the Browns trailed only by two points and were destined to make a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.  But all of that was interrupted by an opposing jersey catching the ball.

Yeah, that was pretty rough, but hey they won the championship like seventeen years before, so it’s not all terrible I guess.

Six seasons later, the Browns found themselves at home in the AFC Championship Game.  With the Browns up seven with over five minutes remaining, the Broncos botched on a kickoff return and started the ball on the two-yard line.  Then, John Elway and company did their magic.

Okay. Now it’s been twenty-three years.  Pretty bad, but this is one of the greatest Quarterbacks of all-time, so maybe it was bound to happen.

Then literally 371 days later, the Browns found themselves losing to the Broncos in Denver and were poised to tie the game when-

Broncos win 38-33.

Damn.

Browns owner Art Modell was sick of Cleveland (I assume) and moved the team to Baltimore in 1995 to make the Baltimore Ravens. We’re assuming Modell loved purple and who could blame him? The Ravens jerseys are hot every year!

So, if you’re a Browns fan, we’re sorry.

The Cavs were also promising in the late-1980s but right as they were expected to take the throne for the Central Division, the Michael Jordans took over and won in clutch fashion.

Then, Jordan did it again four years later.

Oh, and Jordan did it one more time against the Cavs during his short stint with the Wizards.

The Cleveland Indians lost to the Braves in the 1995 World Series and came back for redemption against the Florida Marlins in 1997.  Up 2-0 in Game 7 in Miami, the Indians began to falter, giving up a home run to Florida’s Bobby Bonilla in the seventh inning to make it 2-1.  In the 9th, Florida tied it with a sacrifice fly. And you can guess the rest, here’s how the game unfolded:

Bitterness.  Distraught. Disappointment.

Six years later, the Cavs won the #1 overall pick and drafted hometown kid, LeBron James.  I think we all know the story with this one.

But first, we should realize LeBron James became a legend with this game:

Then led the Cavs to the Finals in the next one before getting swept by the Spurs, in one of the dullest NBA Finals in the history of the game.

Then…The Decision. It just can’t get worse, can it?

OB-JE637_CavsSi_D_20100709114321.jpg
Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert writes a bitter letter to LeBron James which went public.

 

Oh.

When the Cavs played the Heat early in the season, fans were so confident the Cavs would band together to bring home a dramatic regular season win but the Heat cruised by:

Well, at least the Cavaliers won some draft lotteries while LeBron was serious about championships. They picked up Kyrie Irving and all-time great ANTHONY BENNETT. But even Cleveland couldn’t look away when LeBron played for Miami.  They were too busy yelling at him, making posters and booing.

He definitely had more than thirty great highlights and two more championships to brag about but when the Heat lost to the Spurs in 2014, something felt different within LeBron’s camp.

Eventually, The Letter became the first positive and hopeful message to the city of Cleveland.  After another Finals appearance (including the franchise’s first win in the Finals) and a loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Cavs would come back to visit the same team next season.  And it all came down to another Game 7, Cleveland’s first Game 7 since the Indians and Marlins and they were still on the road.  At this point, the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it up at three.

Finally.  Eternal bliss from Cavalier fans.  And LeBron was self-aware about it, too. The Curse was finally broken and Cleveland rightfully celebrated. The 2016 Cavaliers are still the only team to win the NBA Finals after trailing 3-1.

Five months later, the Indians made it to the 2016 World Series.  This time, Cleveland took the three games to one series lead and lost games five and six to the Cubs.  Game 7 went back to Cleveland, something the city is not used to, and let’s not pretend the Cubs were the benchmark of success.  This series was like two homeless people trying to fight over who became more successful.  It seemed like no one wanted the game.

It honestly can’t get more Cleveland than that. Winning a championship after being down three games to one then losing the championship after being up 3-1  The loss stung for Cleveland, but it wasn’t as crushing as much as the Cubs were celebrating a 108-year drought. It certainly helped that the Cavs had won the title a few months prior.

The Cavs lost to the Warriors in Part III of the rivalry in 2017, losing four games to one. Then, the player who hit the championship-winning shot, Kyrie Irving asked to be traded out of Cleveland and now he gets ready to play for the Boston Celtics.

Now, the Cavs hope to return to the Finals with fresh faces, new jerseys and a new logo (which they seem to change every season).  Maybe LeBron James is the only one who can unlock the Cleveland Sports Curse?  Maybe the Indians get a redemption tour this coming October?  Maybe the Brow-you know what we can skip them.

Now, Cleveland has two teams with championship aspirations in 2017 and 2018 and it may be the final time in a while if LeBron James decides to leave the Cavs again. Something tells us that if he left it wouldn’t feel so bitter in Cleveland, but it certainly wouldn’t feel right if you’re a sucker for fairytale endings.

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