Since hell has frozen over and TWO CLEVELAND TEAMS have continued into a post-season in 2016, it's probably high-time I wrote about my beloved Cleveland Caveliers. Especially since Game 2 of the ALDS starts shortly. (!!!)(Go wINDIANS!)
Somewhere in this house is my charter member card to Richfield Coliseum, which I earned for attending the first game played by the Cavaliers there in 1974. (It is currently in a "safe place" but I intend to tear things apart this winter until I locate it again). Needless to say, I was raised a Cavs fan: Richfield Coliseum isn't even standing anymore but my love of the team is. My list of favorite players through the years is long—though Mark Price, Larry Nance, Hot Rod Williams, Craig Ehlo, Brad Daugherty are all favorites from another era. I went through a terrible breakup with LeBron when he unceremoniously left for Miami, just like so many other fans did, and he had to earn his way back into my heart (which he did when I got all weepy after watching this—OK, OK, I still get weepy watching it—and decided to forgive him his trespasses, for he was young and foolish in 2007). I am forever indebted to the current crew for bringing so much happiness to northeast Ohio. I totally get why there will no doubt be a whole bunch of babies born this year named Kyrie.
We didn't miss a single playoff game despite gymnastics, final school projects, or moving prep while living in Alabama in 2015. The girls caught the basketball bug and could talk Cleveland Cavs with anyone, so we were all understandably heartbroken when the curse kicked in yet again and Cleveland came up empty-handed in the post-season. But any true Cleveland fan knows: water under the bridge. We return, wide-eyed, open-hearted and hopeful despite the scar tissue caused by so many years of heartbreak. So when the NBA season kicked off again last fall, we once again made a point to watch every game we could that aired on TV, and even some on Apple TV. Note: watching a game on Apple TV is a totally different experience, because they leave the cameras running the entire time so you can see all the weird and wonderful stuff that happens during halftime. Ha. I believe it was in March or April that I experienced my first true pangs of anxiety about the playoffs—like, we actually have a chance here. But I mostly kept my mouth shut, because, experience.
And then there was no denying it: the Cavs were on the playoff path once again. It took a thousand planets to align to watch the games because of gymnastics, work, travel, Matt's two month head start to Cheyenne last spring, and moving prep. We phone-called through a few games but no one missed one. My nagging pangs of playoff anxiety turned into full-fledged panic, but the kind of panic that comes from riding a wild, nearly out-of-control roller coaster. The good parts. Down with Detroit! Down with Atlanta! Down with Toronto! With every game, we were more on edge. Well, Matt was way more zen about things somehow—I suspect it is because he is not a charter member of the Richfield Coliseum, and only came to be a Cavs fan in the mid-1980s. But I was an absolute basket case.
Moving during the NBA Playoffs presented a huge problem, but we solved it by keeping one of our two TVs out of the moving truck. HALLELUJAH, because our things did not arrive when they were supposed to arrive but we could watch no matter what. The problem of what to do if the series extended into Matt's three week trip to Alabama (which I was to attend the second week of) was looming. The girls were headed to the Karahalises for a week, who promised that while not NBA fans, would guarantee access to a TV and an empty schedule in case of a game 7. Which, in all honesty, was not looking promising at the beginning of June:
Game 1: Golden State wins.
Game 2: Golden State wins.
Game 3: Cavs TROUNCE Golden State. (whew!)
Game 4: Golden State wins.
No team had ever dug themselves out of a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs before. While my hope was tested, it was not lost.
Game 5: Cleveland wins.
Game 6: Cleveland wins.
OH MY GOSH. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. Game 7 will be watched in Colorado Springs, CO and Montgomery, AL.
Game 7: My flight was scheduled to land just before the game was set to begin. Matt picked me up, we skipped dinner and screeched into the hotel parking lot just in time to catch most of the first quarter. I was nearly sick with nerves. SICK.
Here is where I will note that I have never really understand the charm of watching old professional sports games on TV. I could care less about watching the Superbowl from 1975, or even worse, highlight reels from The Drive, The Fumble, The 9th Inning of the 1997 World Series, or The Shot. (You can look those up if you want, though if you're a Cleveland fan, you won't need to). I apologize, for now I get it. I could watch Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Championships every week for the rest of my life and never get sick of it. It's a wonder we didn't get kicked out of the Maxwell AFB visiting quarters, because, well, it was an angst-ridden and then rowdy party we threw that night. It was hard to focus on what had happened—because I was bawling. I will admit it: I bawled about basketball, friends. 93-89 bawling. UGLY bawling.
Deb sent me this photo, taken at the moment I burst into tears of joy. There were some very excited Dillow girls on the other side of the country. Even Deb and Greg got into the game, because who couldn't? It was the greatest game in basketball history. HA! We called my parents, the girls, had another friend from New Mexico call, texted furiously with friends, lit up Facebook with friends who were equally shocked and joyous... it was a good night that I will never, ever, ever forget. LeBron was undone, and so was I.
Anything is possible. 123—hard work. 456—together.