Remembering June 19, 2016: The Day The Cavs Won It All
I can hardly believe that it was five years ago.
My friend, Chris, came power walking up my driveway with a bag of Munchos potato chips in his hand, hours before the game was even set to tip off.
"I'm so nervous dude," he said on his way up.
We all were. We knew what was on the line that night. Everyone knew that was on the line that night.
52 long, painful years of sports suffering could come to an end in a 48 minute clash between four lines. Sports suffering that long dated both me and Chris, including John Elway's drive, Earnest Byner's fumble and Red Right 88, a game that my own dad had his heartbroken in person, could all be put in the rearview mirror.
It all came down to one game.
Oh yeah, and it was Father's Day. I had the privilege to watch Game 7 with the man that welcomed me to the world of Ohio sports. The man that took me to my first Cavs game at such a young age. The man that nearly cried in our Virginia Beach hotel room on the night of LeBron's infamous decision.
We knew what was on the line that night.
Akron's own LeBron James was tasked with finishing off a 3-1 comeback against team that just went 73-9 with a unanimous MVP, three things that had never been done before.
Despite a flight out of Cleveland early the next morning, with vacation bags still yet to be packed due to extreme nerves, my household was prepared to watch every dribble.
Truly, I don't even remember much about watching the first half at all.
I remember a nervous pit in my stomach, unlike any feeling I had ever felt before. I remember looking at an untouched plate of my mother's famous chocolate chip cookies sitting on a center table, as hands were too shaky to eat them.
You Guys Nervous Yet?
Halftime felt like an eternity.
I remember my dad sarcastically asking, "You guys nervous yet?" as the Cavs were down by just seven points.
Coming into the second half, things started to come to life. J.R. Smith hit two memorable threes that got the Cavs back into the game. My friends were buzzing, and it felt like the championship atmosphere became very real.
The next thing I remember, the score was tied at 89 for what felt like forever.
My basement fell silent for those final three minutes of the game. Nobody hardly said a word. We didn't want to get our hopes too high, just to be let down like so many moments in Cleveland sports history.
We barely cheered when Kyrie Irving hit the famous shot over Stephen Curry. A few high fives were shared when James blocked Andre Iguodala. A collective feeling of anxiety overwhelmed the room as LeBron fell to the court, holding his wrist after a missed dunk over Dryamond Green. Everyone anxiously stood up to see Kevin Love scramble around to defend Curry's final three-point attempt.
Then, the buzzer sounded. Euphoria.
As my friends and I jumped around, now screaming and hugging each other, I couldn't help but to stare at the scoreboard at the bottom of the screen. I truly could not believe they had done it.
Five years later, the sacredness of June 19, 2016 still holds a very special place in the heart of every Clevelander. You remember where you watched that game. You remember the party that ensued downtown afterward. You remember the championship parade with over one million people.
Life is completely different now than it was just five years ago. So many things have changed, both in our personal lives, and in the landscape of Ohio sports.
But we will always have June 19, 2016. Nobody can ever take that away from Cleveland.
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