Cleveland Cavalier fans celebrate after the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Finals, Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
CLEVELAND — More tears. Only this time, tears of joy.
Cleveland’s championship drought, crossing 52 years, generations and noted by a long list of near misses, is over at last.
On Father’s Day, LeBron James, the kid from nearby Akron raised by a single mother, brought the title home.
As the final seconds of Cleveland’s 93-89 victory at Golden State in Game 7 ticked off on the giant scoreboard inside Quicken Loans Arena, 18,000 fans, some of them strangers when Sunday night began, cried, hugged, screamed and shared a moment many of them have spent a lifetime dreaming of.
They then linked arms and shouted the words to Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” a song that only seemed reserved for others.
For the first time since 1964, when the Browns ruled the NFL, Cleveland is a title town again.
With James leading the way and winning MVP honours, the Cavs became the first team in NBA Finals history to overcome a 3-1 deficit.
Call it The Comeback.
At 10:37 p.m., Cleveland finally exorcised decades of sports demons — the painful losses given nicknames like “The Drive” and “The Fumble” and “The Shot” — and became a title town for the first time since Dec. 27, 1964, when the Browns won the NFL championship. There had been so many close calls in between, so much heartache, so much torture.
Like the Warriors, those days are history.
“I never ever thought I would see this would happen,” said Tim Lovell from Canfield, Ohio, who sat on the 50-yard line when Denver quarterback John Elway broke Cleveland’s heart with “The Drive” in the 1986 AFC Championship game. “I tell you what with about two minutes to go I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I’ve seen “The Drive” and I’ve seen “The Fumble” and I’ve seen Michael Jordan kill us with “The Shot.”
As Lovell spoke, his 18-year-old daughter Marisa, wiped tears from her eyes.
“This is history,” she said. “I cried real tears. It was overwhelming and breathtaking to be here.”
Following the game, fans poured out of “The Q” onto Huron Road for a party that could last for days.
And soon, Cleveland will host a parade, one that’s been planned for a lifetime.
“I can’t wait to get back home,” James said.