While forever a Heatnation fan, I have to give credit where credit is due. For fifty-two years, the city of Cleveland has undergone a culmination of changes, both socially and economically. Whether you are from the area or not, we have all heard the countless stories and heartbreaks for C-Town and have even mustard various jokes and muffles about the former metropolis of the Western Reserve. This was the once great city whose population dropped from nearly a million at the peak of the United States economy to about four hundred thousand today. This was the once great city that prides itself as the Rock and Roll capital of the world because every nook and cranny in its vessel was poisoned with darkness and depression. But now, with countless years of revitalization, the Sixth City of the great state of Ohio has come back with a bang, but with a new title to add to its belt as the City of Champions.
For the 2016 NBA Finals, we have witnessed history. While words still cannot describe or capture the heart and emotion of the city of Cleveland, all we know is that what had happened just feels right. This was a moment that was predestined by critics since the tremendous rise of LeBron James during his middle school years. While some began proclaiming him ‘The Chosen One,’ King James still had a lot to prove. Having endured countless criticism, probably the most received by any athlete in any sport, LeBron persevered and leveraged his talents to bring titles to his teams and his name.
During his early years in the NBA, fans and critics alike were already comparing the style, tenacity, and winning mentality to that of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Capping off MVP titles and setting off records, the local grown kid from Akron, Ohio continued to gain momentum. But even with the fans by his side, LeBron just couldn’t quite clinch the NBA Holy Grail. During the summer of 2010, James became an unrestricted free agent. While there was many speculation of where he was going, whatever decision he made other than Cleveland was always going to backfire. But as I have said before, as a Heatnation fan, I couldn’t have been more prouder when he, ‘decided to take his talents to South Beach.’
During his illustrious time in Miami, LeBron was able to create history. Reestablishing the dominant Big Three with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, LeBron was able to spark four captivating years with four consecutive years in the finals and two back-to-back NBA titles. For the doubters, they continued to doubt. But for Miami fans, we relished in the glory. While he decided to end his tenure with the Heat to return back to Cleveland 2014, LeBron was still able to give the Miami fans the love and passion that they deserved. Yes, we still miss the captivating moments of the three kinds walking on the court, but his decision to go back home and relive his promise was something we in the basketball world have to respect.
Since his homecoming to Ohio, LeBron James, the former traitor of Cleveland, returned to his stomping grounds with open arms. Still with a promised he kept back when he was eighteen years old, LeBron was now, more than ever, determined to deliver the NBA title to Cleveland. But with every great force, there will always be an immovable object. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, that object was the Golden State Warriors. Having met them in the 2014-2015 Finals, the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry proved to be one of the most dominant and dynamic basketball team ever to walk the court. Their style of play and driving attacking force was something that was feared by all teams across the nation. And if that wasn’t enough, their incredible start to the 2015-2016 season, having broken Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bull’s starting record, definitely set the tone for the NBA Playoffs.
Still, even with Golden State tearing down the West, Cleveland was able to finish the season with fifty-seven wins. While their start to the NBA finals was nothing but disappointing, the true grit and mentality of the team from coming back from a 3-1 series with two blowout losses, King James and the Cavs were able to respond in both Game 5 and 6 to stave off elimination. It was then on Game 7 where we witnessed history. The team that was once feared all year had begun to crumble where Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson went completely cold on the attacking force. With memorable chase-down blocks and incredible teamwork, Cleveland was able to emerge victorious winning the city’s first professional title in over fifty-two years.
Even now, it still seems surreal. The battle for NBA supremacy has come to an end. But the most important thing is that LeBron James has finally delivered on his promise. Yes, there will always be criticism because he is LeBron James, but we cannot deny that the results of that night. All we can say now is this… Congratulations Cleveland! We’ll see you next year.