[intro-text size=”25px”]With the drought over, it is time for Cleveland to accept its own greatness.[/intro-text]
I’ll spare you the lame bar jokes you’ve heard dozens of times over at Cleveland’s expense. They are as tired as they are numerous. Following the string of successes over the past few months, those hackneyed comedic premises will need a page one rewrite now that Cleveland is the city of champions. I know this novel sense of civic pride is a strange feeling, but get used to it. The city’s on a roll with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Unless you spent the previous month busting rocks alongside Jimmy Dimora, you’re aware the Cleveland Cavaliers are the NBA World Champions. There’s been enough ink spilled chronicling their stellar season, so we’ll let Sport Illustrated rehash what you already know with a sure to-be-overpriced commemorative issue. While the Cavs victory highlighted the pinnacle of the city’s achievements in regards to sports, they were not our only champions this year.
Prior to LeBron, the last time Cleveland won a major championship was with the 1964 Browns. Without getting distracted by the past, it is worth noting that the ’64 Browns championship was preceded by the Cleveland Barons winning the Calder Cup within the American Hockey League that same year. A Cleveland hockey team had yet to repeat that performance until this year. In addition to setting a franchise record in points, the Lake Erie Monsters, led by the Swedish goaltender Anton Forsberg, completed a commanding sweep of the Hershey Bears to reclaim the Calder Cup. It would seem that fate favors symmetry as that Monsters win set the table for another major championship to follow suit, just as the Barons did for Jim Brown’s iteration of the Browns.
With the Indians in the middle of their best season in years, on pace for a compelling postseason run without Jose Mesa, it would appear the only thing that favors company more than misery is success. For the first time in a long while, Cleveland owns more stock in the latter than the former. Just take local MMA fighter Stipe Miocic for example. The current UFC Heavyweight Champion, Miocic was trained by the same team that works with Jessica “Evil” Eye, another local MMA fighter who we featured on our cover earlier this year. Your first glimpse of the Croatian bruiser may have been during the Cavs victory parade that he rode in with his championship belt in hand, but you’ll have another chance soon when he defends his belt right here in Cleveland at UFC 203 on September 10.
With the “curse” of perennial losing behind us, we can now look forward toward a more optimistic future. One that not only holds hopes in sports achievements, but in coming together as a community. The most impressive feat during the Cavs victory parade, on par with the staggering amount of people who flocked to East 9th, was the undeniable sense of unity that underscored the entire celebration. We did not riot, we did not loot, and we did not flip cars or torch businesses. We shared love, hope and boundless jubilation. The energy was palpable. Every last one of the estimated 1.3 million on hand was bonded along with every member of the Cavs roster that bright, shining afternoon. Together, we could achieve anything. Together, we realized, we are invincible.
We no longer need to keep our achievements at arm’s length, afraid they’ll be taken away from us at any moment. We need not throttle our optimism and hopes, couching our passions against the failures of the past. We are no longer shackled to yesterdays, but free to confidently accept the better tomorrows ahead. We have exorcised whatever ailed our fair city for far too long. There is a reason we blamed “curses” for our shortcomings. It is the same reason we started calling ourselves, “Believeland”: because this is truly a magical city where anything is possible. From this day forward, Cleveland starts looking toward the future. No longer are we “the mistake by the lake,” but rather, a city of champions.
A City of Gold.