Here’s the irony: Cleveland sports fans actually expected to win a championship this season. Can you believe that one? We actually thought we were going to win it all. We convinced ourselves that 45 years of heartbreak were going away in another month. LeBron plus Shaq equals NBA title. It was going to finally be all ours.
God must be enjoying a hearty laugh after this one. Probably his biggest laugh of all.
Really, how could we have let ourselves fall into this trap? ESPN rolled out the Cleveland Sports Heartbreak Montage on cue tonight, with the announcers even apologizing for showing it. But there it was again, playing peekaboo, jumping out at us just when we thought it was going away for good. This has become such a cliche that it’s probably on file for all sports broadcasts, even Vancouver at Montreal hockey games. Its a misery cliche.
The Drive. The Fumble. The Shot. The Mesa. Now add The LeBromination to it.
What a disaster.
Judging from most people’s reactions it’s not just another sports season that’s been put to rest. No, Thursday night’s playoff elimination at the hands of the Celtics was a eulogy for the entire city of Cleveland.
And based on previous storylines, maybe they are right. Many say the Saints helped save New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with this year’s Super Bowl victory putting the city back on its feet. The storylines for Michigan State’s basketball team’s run to the Final Four in Detroit two seasons ago was said to be cathartic for that city.
If sports can save a city, can they also kill it?
LeBron James means more to the health of his franchise than any other athlete. If he leaves the Cavs, they become a lottery team playing in front of less than 10,000 people per night. A perpetually kicked-in-the groin fanbase will turn its back on the team. Dan Gilbert will lose millions. The Cavs have always been the third wheel of Cleveland sports, relevent only for a few years in the late ’80s and early ’90s and again during LeBron’s career. Should he leave, it means the team loses the best player it will ever have. It will be years before the team recovers, if it would even be able.
The Indians have sunk to sad-sack levels. The Browns were on the verge of fan mutiny last season and look mo better for 2010. And now the Cavs have collapsed two straight years after posting the NBA’s best record.
Forty-five years of heartbreak boiled up with the Cavs’ loss to the Celtics. Forty-five years of anger rose up with the LeBromination. We were all witnesses once again to yet another Cleveland sports disaster.
And this one feels like a backbreaker.