My family is in the process of moving, so I went home Sunday afternoon to help out with some projects around the house before we put our house up for sale.
As I was painting, I had the television on in the background and they interrupted regularly scheduled programming to broadcast LeBron James receiving his second consecutive Most Valuable Player trophy.
I stopped painting to watch for a moment, and I heard James talk about the MVP being a nice award, but it’s not the trophy he is after.
He talked about his goal being the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the prize awarded to the NBA champion. Repeatedly, he said he realized how much it would mean to the city of Cleveland.
Everything. Everything is what it would mean.
For those of you from Pittsburgh, you can proudly talk about the six Super Bowl rings and the recent capture of Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Students from the Windy City were young, but they got a chance to see Michael Jordan’s greatness that included six championships and some got to celebrate in 2005 when the White Sox took home the ultimate prize.
But for the JCU students from Buffalo and Cleveland, it’s been a lifetime of “close, but no cigar.”
People that don’t watch sports don’t get it. They point out it’s the team that wins or loses, not the fans. But in a way, I have this delusion that if the city of Cleveland were to win a title, it would validate me as a fan.
As I sat there with a paintbrush in hand, I kind of made a connection between the house I was leaving and being a Cleveland sports fan.
I thought about all the times I sat there in that living room I was painting and watched a Cleveland team lose.
I remembered being a nine-year-old boy staying up late on a Sunday night in 1997 to watch Edgar Renteria hit a liner off Charles Nagy’s glove in game seven of the 1997 World Series to give the Marlins a title. I thought about all the times I came home to that house not being able to feel a limb after the Browns got grounded into the ground for 60 minutes.
Somehow, I feel like if the Cavs win the title, it will feel so good that it will cancel out all the bad things I’ve felt as a sports fan. It seems moronic, but sports fans are willing to endure decades of losing and tough times for a one-day parade and the memories that come with it.
I think a lot of people feel like me. Here’s hoping that when we return in September, Cleveland fans can feel validated, and LeBron’s still a Cavalier.