Occasionally, I scroll down to the bottom of my television’s DVR list and replay the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors Game 7 that I have yet to delete. I recorded the matchup as I watched it that June evening in 2016, even though I remember thinking at the time it was probably bad luck to do so. If you’re from Cleveland, you understand.
Each time, I fast-forward to midway through the fourth quarter, when it is still an anyone-can-win game. As the minutes tick by, I search for the moment in which the impossibility of recovering from a 3-1 series deficit becomes inevitability.
It’s not LeBron’s chase-down block. It’s not Kyrie knocking down that three. Hope begins to emerge after the LeBron free throw that puts the Cavs up by four with 10.6 seconds left. Yet the Cleveland sports fan knows how bad breaks seem woven into moments like these. But then Steph misses. Golden State rebounds. Mo Speights throws up a miss.
It all feels preordained. Everything about LeBron's draft, departure, return and accompanying promise to deliver a championship to the city coalesces in five words, screamed from the middle of a basketball court in Oakland to the universe: “Cleveland, this is for you!"
That win changed this city. It seems trite unless you have experienced how the anvil of disappointment has dropped on us over the years. Unless you have seen how fast hope can evaporate.
It is why so many of us gathered downtown after the win for a parade unlike any this city had ever seen. It was not only a celebration but an exorcism of our sports grief and confirmation that, yes, this really happened — to us.
Ohio Magazine editor Jim Vickers is still patiently waiting for a Browns championship parade.