• Lyndon B. Johnson was the President of the United States.
• The Civil Rights Act was signed into law.
• The average cost of a house was $13,050.
• Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston.
The year these events took place was also the year of the last major sports championship in Cleveland: The Browns beat the Baltimore Colts in an NFL title game in December, 1964. The Super Bowl had yet to be established.
No major sports market would experience greater futility and heartache for its fan base since that time (yes, the Chicago Cubs have a longer history of going without a title, but the city of Chicago experienced major sports championships over the past 50 years). Cleveland’s sports championship drought lasted 52 years for the Browns, the Indians, and the Cavaliers.
On June 19, the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA championship. As a native Clevelander, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the terrible curse has been broken.
This is some sort of alternate reality for me and the vast majority of Clevelanders. Most of us have gone around for the past 50 years hanging our heads in disbelief over the misfortunes experienced by our beloved sports teams. Few in the city remembered the feeling of being part of a championship celebration.
Proverbs 24:16 tells us that King Solomon said, “A righteous man falls down seven times and gets up.” Clearly, King Solomon must have been thinking of Cleveland sports teams and fans when he expressed this, but multiply this many times over for the long-suffering fans of Cleveland. Righteousness really is continuing to do what’s right, getting up from failure, and continuing to move forward. That marks this basketball team, and it certainly describes the faithful fans of my hometown.
It’s a good lesson for all of us to remember: Part of life is how well we respond to difficult moments and how we pick ourselves up from failure. We must find ways to move forward, incorporating failures as part of our personal growth.
Experiencing this long, five-decade period of sports futility has certainly made this NBA championship all the sweeter for those of us who have been part of this victory drought for the last 52 years. I am representative of hundreds of thousands of Cleveland fans who will be smiling a bit more over the next days, weeks and months. LeBron James promised a championship, he delivered, and a weight has been lifted from our collective consciousness and shoulders.
We have been lifted up by the words of King Solomon and by the actions of “King James” and his Court.