I haven’t properly slept since the Cleveland Cavaliers won Game 6 of the NBA Finals Thursday night. Every time I start to think about the game my heart speeds up in anticipation and fear and excitement and dread. I know for a fact that the Cavs’ season will end on Sunday and the specter of a loss frightens me more than hope for a victory. I oscillate between quiet reflection and manic, chest thumping bravado. It’s exquisite. To quote Willy Wonka, “The suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to play in Game 7 of the NBA Finals and you are alive to see it. That is a sentence worth reading out loud. In all the hype videos and fever dreams do not lose sight of the fact that this is a rare a beautiful moment in Cavaliers history. No one knows how the game itself will go, but now feels like an appropriate time to zoom out the camera and take the long view.
- The Cavs franchise is 46 years old (Est. 1970-71)
- The club won its first playoff game and series 40 years ago (1976’s Miracle of Richfield)
- Michael Jordan’s infamous Shot came 27 years ago (1989 First Round, Game 5)
- Gund (Now Quicken Loans) Arena opened 22 years ago (1994-95 season
- The Cavs won the NBA Draft Lottery 13 years ago (2003)
- The team reached its first NBA Finals 9 years ago (2007, swept 4-0 by San Antonio)
- Lebron James Decided to leave six years ago (2010)
- LeBron James returned home two years ago (2014)
- The Cavaliers won their first NBA Finals game one year ago (2015)
- The club stands one win away from their first NBA Championship (Today)
Everything listed and everything in between has been a preamble to this moment. Every soul-sucking loss during 2011’s epic losing streak and every playoff victory of the 1990’s has been building backstory and history for what can only be described as The Most Important Game in Franchise History. This contest is only the 19th Game 7 in the Finals which is impressive for a league that was founded in 1946-47. The visiting team has only three victories on that span, the most recent coming in 1978 when Washington bested Seattle in the Emerald City. The Cavaliers are 2-2 in playoff Game 7’s in their history with wins in 1976 and 1992 as well as losses in 2007 and 2008. For what it’s worth, the Warriors are 4-4 in Game 7’s in their franchise history. Those numbers matter little to Sunday.
http://www.scout.com/cleveland-sports/story/1679450-ty-lue-has-the-cavs-one-win-away-from-gloryAt least four quarters separate one of these teams from a parade. Narrative-wise, it feels appropriate for the season to end this way. The Warriors have cast a long shadow ever since last year’s Finals. I would argue their success this season dulled the excitement of Cleveland’s victories and even played a role in the decision to fire David Blatt. Almost every pre-season prognosticator expected to see a rematch in the championship round, but few expected the Ohio team to prevail. All the strife of the regular season does not matter. The playoff performances don’t matter. The Cavs have already cheated death, rebounding handsomely from both a 2-0 and 3-1 series deficit. At this point LeBron James seems to be playing an NBA Jam version of himself, Kyrie Irving has his jumper on lock, and the Warriors are either battered, bruised, or psychologically affected by the series so far. There is no telling what will happen on Sunday night and I cannot wait to find out.
I’ll leave you with a friendly word as a loyal son of Cleveland living on the west coast: Win or lose, behave. Sunday night is going to be emotional no matter what and no one will quite know what to do with themselves. The whole country will be watching. Don’t be like Vancouver in 2011. Don’t be like San Francisco in 2014. Most importantly don’t force the news make comparisons to the infamous Ten Cent Beer Night or Bottlegate incidents.
We are better than that. Enjoy today. Enjoy the anticipation as well as the uncertainty. This is rarefied air, friends. Breathe deep. Go Cavs.