To people outside of Cleveland, we’re the No. 1 most cursed sports fans in the country.
The Cavs loss to the Warriors in the NBA Finals proves it. Right?
That’s what sports writers would have you believe.
We know better. That's why we’re still ALL IN here in Cleveland.
As Cavs Coach David Blatt said after the Cavs lost Game Six in the NBA Finals to the Warriors: “Not every story has a happy ending. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad story. This was not. This was a good story."
No, it was a great story.
Too often we only count the end of the story, the final score, to decide who won and who lost.
Too often we forget the joy in the journey and count only the defeat at the destination.
I’ll leave the game highlights to the basketball experts. Here’s what I learned from watching the Cleveland Cavaliers take us on the ride of our lives this year:
- Apologies matter. That’s how we got LeBron James back. After an angry rant after LBJ took his talents to Miami, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert privately and publicly apologized. An apology sparked the return of LeBron James. It deserves mentioning. Forever.
- You can be ALL IN even when others are all out. LBJ scored 215 points. He was still ALL IN after two All Stars were out for good. (Kevin Love to a shoulder injury; Kyrie Irving to a fractured kneecap.) The fans? We stayed ALL IN, all over Cleveland and beyond.
- Under-promise and over-deliver. LeBron didn’t promise a title. He promised this: “I will guarantee that we will play our asses off.” And they did. The Cavs won their first two Finals games ever, in the history of the franchise.
- Respect matters. What a moment when the best basketball player in the world caught sight of the greatest football player of all time, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who brought Cleveland its last championship when the Browns won in 1964. What did LeBron do? He quietly bowed.
- Never, ever, give up. We will never forget LeBron flying into a camera and jumping back into the game with the bloody imprint of the lens engraved on his head. Or Matthew Dellavedova recovering the basketball like it was a fumble in football. The Cavs became The Grit Squad.
- You play with grit, but you lose with grace. Coach Blatt made no excuses after the game. He simply praised both teams for doing their best.
- You can lose and still win. “The Warriors won the trophy. But the Cavs stole the show,” Rachel Larimore wrote for Slate. Amen, sister. We lost the Finals, but we got a season to celebrate.
- The best is yet to come. No matter what the team, Indians, Browns, Cavs, our sports motto here is, “There’s always next year.” Well guess what? Next year has never looked better for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Are we heartbroken here in Cleveland?
But that’s okay, because here in Cleveland, we have the biggest hearts of any sports fans.