For one week in October, 2004 it appeared to be over. The Boston Red Sox were down to the New York Yankees three games to zero. Never in MLB history had a team come back from being down three games to zero. Then, history occurred, and the Red Sox not only won the AL Pennant, but swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. Since then, a three to zero comeback has happened twice in the NHL, in 2010 and 2014, respectively.
So, here we are, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on the verge of being swept by their Western Conference nemesis, the Golden State Warriors. Flashback to last season, the Cavs faced a three to one deficit. We all remember how that turned out; a parade that attracted 1.3 million in Downtown Cleveland, where former Browns running back Jim Brown ceremoniously passed the torch, or the Larry O’Brien Trophy, to LeBron James, securing Cleveland’s first professional sports championship in fifty-two years.
The Sixth City continues to be on the rise, especially in the sports world. Sure, the Indians were on the opposite end of the spectrum last October when they blew a three to one lead to the Chicago Cubs. And sure, the Browns are still relentlessly searching for their first winning season since 2007, but at least the roster has known players not named Joe Thomas. Today’s article, however, is about the Cavaliers, and why this series isn’t over quite yet.
Everyone, including NBA fans, the media, the City of Pittsburgh, and everyone in between will confidently say this series is over. Yet, if anyone learned anything this past year in sports, it should be to expect the unexpected. If I’m Tyronn Lue, I’m telling my team one thing and one thing only, and it’s that “You guys have an opportunity to pull off the greatest comeback in NBA Playoff History.” This should be the mindset of every single Cleveland Cavalier, Cavalier fan, and individual within the City of Light. Remember the slogan from 2016? In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given, everything is earned, and might I personally add, rightfully so. Put it this way, if you live in any other city in America, especially in the region just east of Northeast Ohio, the mindset is different. As the Pittsburgh Penguins take to the rink for the 2017 Stanley Cup, what is the mindset in Pittsburgh? Honestly, the mindset is that “They’re supposed to win.” Do we, as Clevelanders, ever say this? Are the Browns supposed to win? Look, it’s any given Sunday, and any given day for the Indians, and for the Cavs, we’re currently hanging by the moment.
In Pittsburgh, Brady cheats, and the Preds get all the calls at home or away. Newsflash, the home team gets calls their way, it’s a fact of sports. On the road, you aren’t getting the calls. Neither did the Cavs. The Warriors got several generous calls at Oracle Arena. Last night at the Q? The Cavs had help. Shame they couldn’t capitalize. That’s what separates us from them, and several other sports cities in America. This is why a few of my relatives warmed up to the City of Cleveland and Cleveland sports, becoming engrossed in the culture. In Pittsburgh, you never see anyone from other areas changing teams unless they’re new to sports or have been vaguely supporting a team. In Cleveland, if the officials fail to call the game in our favor, we’re playing the m too, and we’re going to do all we can to rise to the occasion. And once former Cleveland haters see that, and take a tour to the City of Rock and Roll, they come back with a little bit of orange and brown, wearing a shirt that says, ‘Defend the Land,’ and buying a cap with (dare I say it?) Chief Wahoo as the insignia or for those who prefer, the block ‘C.’
And they come to realize that city to the southeast I’ll dub the Southpoint Empire comes in second to the Forest City. Many love to cite the rankings between the two cities, but to be honest, rankings are biased and full of fallacy. The individual sees for themselves, and many close to me have seen for themselves, former Pittsburgh lovers, off to C-Town, to see it with the intention of poking fun, only to come back preferring the Northcoast to Southpoint.
Believe in Believeland, and think about all that has happened within the last three-hundred and sixty-five days in sports. Two teams came back from a three to one deficit, and Brady came back from being down by twenty-five points late in Super Bowl LI. If that isn’t enough to provide hope, then maybe we should go back to the 2004 ALCS, where this article started, and remember what happened. Do the Cavs still have a shot to do this? Of course! It’s very, very slim, but there is a possibility. There is still more basketball to be played, and momentum can change at any given moment.
Again, Believe in Believeland, and remember one thing: In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given, everything is earned. This isn’t Pittsburgh!