Believeland: King James plans to banish Cleveland’s curse. Yes, the heartbreak of the Cleveland sports fan is well documented.
They do not foster a lovable loser vibe like the one that follows the Chicago Cubs. Nor do they have a Billy-goat or a Great Bambino-type of curse that haunts their specific teams.
In other places, like Chicago or Boston, one pro team in town might continually disappoint. However, other professional franchises pick up the championship slack. Having said that, it’s not just one franchise that repeatedly lets the Cleveland fan base down. Almost defying logic, since 1964, the entire city of Cleveland remains in a title drought.
The city by the lake has endured “the fumble,” “the shot” and “the decision.” Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, too. Accordingly, that same hope-sinking iceberg could’ve been named “Art Modell” or “Jose Mesa” … True story, I know a few grown men who still tremble when the 1997 World Series is mentioned.
Furthermore, after multiple failures, most Cleveland fans won’t even watch the real (or the Hollywood version) Draft Day. Call that post traumatic sports disorder, call it 50 years of gray, or just call it ‘The curse.”
Flash back to when Lebron James decided he was “coming home.” After his successful stint in Miami, he teamed up with young superstar Kyrie Irving and courted all-star big man Kevin Love to the squad. Cleveland had the NBA’s newest and most popular “big 3.” They became media darlings and the team was quickly lauded as the Vegas-odds on favorite to win this year’s NBA championship. Cleveland fans spuriously smiled, knowing if any place could sour a storybook ending, it would be the ‘Land.
After an early feeling-out period, the team eventually came together and hit its stride, earning the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Things were going swimmingly. Lebron and his mighty band of Cavaliers were poised for a deep playoff run … Leaving most basketball fans saying; “what curse?”
Insert ominous storm clouds, that weird horror-movie type of music and a man named Kelly Olynyk …
Early into game four of the first round series versus the Boston Celtics, Kevin Love and the Boston center got a little too tangled up. The result was a gruesome shoulder injury for Love, which eventually led to season ending surgery for the Cleveland star forward.
Losing an all star forward with the talents of Love obviously creates some actual match-up problems. Most importantly, it creates doubt and allows for that “C” word to creep back into the conversation.
Despite the personnel loss, Lebron and the Cavs conquered the Celtics, quickly turning their focus to the Chicago Bulls. The matchup between Chicago and Cleveland was originally expected to be rough. Now, with Love on the shelf, the talent on both teams would be even.
That physical play from Chicago immediately took its toll on the Cavs. It became clear something was amiss when Cleveland’s star point-guard, Kyrie Irving, failed to keep up with fellow superstar PG, Derrick Rose.
While D Rose was banking buzzer beaters in to win game three, we learned Kyrie had a foot injury. So, that means two-thirds of Cleveland’s “big 3” is now in the shadows. It also meant Chicago had the upper hand on the series. Derrick Rose’s bucket claimed a 2-1 lead.
Positioning for another heart break, Cleveland fans nervously watched game four. Bothered by injuries and poor shooting, the Cavs couldn’t take a firm lead. As the game unfolded, it had all the traditional bad vibes associated with a Cleveland sporting event. Bad calls and questionable decision making were about to ruin the King’s homecoming-trophy-fairytale.
… Until the most UN-CLEVELAND thing occurred:
In the house that Michael Jordan built, after a gut-wrenching loss in game 3, Lebron managed to possibly change the entire culture of Cleveland sports. Granted, that shot wasn’t a Finals game winner. Shit, it wasn’t even a series winner.
It was a curse-breaker though, like Pedro Cerrano in Major League, Lebron James told whatever bad mojo that plagued the area; “Fuck you, Jobu” as he did it himself.
That now-classic shot provided unprecedented momentum as it essentially propelled the Cavs into the Eastern Conference finals. A focused Cleveland group would go on to win the next two games, finishing off the Bulls in game six (in Chicago) and clinching the series 4-2.
Exalted, I fully expect the Cavs to go on to win the Eastern Conference annnnnnd ….
Yep, the NBA Championship too.
Sorry, Cleveland fans, hope I didn’t just curse you.