Showing posts with label Cavs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cavs. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cleveland shares values — and a CHAMPIONSHIP!

The RTA bus would pick me up on Turney Road, then go down Broadway though urban decline and eventually reach Public Square. I would get off, wait a bit and take another bus over the Detroit-Superior Bridge and be dropped off walking distance from St. Ignatius High School.

I didn't think much about it at the time, but going through downtown Cleveland to the near West Side for high school shaped a lot of who I am. I learned some street smarts, how to talk with people asking for spare change and how various types of workers go about their days.

Floods of memories and emotions continue to come my way as I bask in the Cleveland Cavaliers' NBA Championship.

I am not sure people outside of Cleveland understand our feelings. They may be baffled. A big reason for this is the unparalleled civic pride we have for our city. We Clevelanders have always been connected through our punishing winters, negative press from the outside world and a sense of community that continues to get stronger.

In all fairness, I have seen a lot of civic pride from New Yorkers and Chicagoans. It is legitimate, but it's not as close-knit as ours in Cleveland. Two major-league baseball teams in one city? Those cities are just huge.

Cleveland is smaller, but still a metropolis. We're all big fish there. If you're still in Cleveland, you've looked around the world and have realized that you'll take the lack of traffic, accessibility, low home prices and lifelong friendships over what you might find in other cities.

We have been brought up with Cleveland, and it is in our blood. We all have stories like this, and here's mine in a nutshell:

My grandparents were brought up in Slavic Village. My mom's parents lived there during their whole lives. My dad's parents soon moved to a bordering suburb — Garfield Heights.

My dad avoided the Vietnam draft by going to law school and supported himself and his young family by working at Kroger's. When he become an attorney, his law office was on Public Square for more than 30 years.
Two of my uncles were in advertising in Cleveland. My Uncle Bob climbed the ranks through another Cleveland landmark — Higbee's, which is now the Cleveland Jack Casino. As a youngster, I found myself downtown all of the time in the natural center of Northeast Ohio.

The city's economy bloomed when it was a steel and iron town, and because of that, the city always has had a blue-collar mentality and sensibility. Or as LeBron correctly put it when he returned to Cleveland, "In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have."

LeBron matured and grew and showed that Cleveland is worth returning to. He gets it.

Of course, the lead of what happened is that our championship-starved city stopped a ridiculously long drought without a title. So, of course, we are going bonkers because of that.
But we're also going bonkers because of our civic pride and how united we are as a city. I sense that outsiders look at Cleveland in one of three ways:

1) Bewilderment. They just don't get our excitement and never will.
2) Apathy. They don't care. They have lives where they don't truly have the passion and caring for anything, let alone their sports teams. These people will continue to sleepwalk through their lives.
3) Unspoken Envy. Yep. Outsiders probably won't admit it, but this championship strangely — and probably unjustly — validates our community. It validates Cleveland on a national scale. It validates our values. This is not a place that we leave and forget. This is us, and we are happy for that. Who would not want this?

I have lived outside of Cleveland for 21 years now — three years in New York City, and 18 in Los Angeles. A long time ago, I realized that Cleveland will always be my home.

With the exception of my daughters, fiancee and a couple stragglers here and there, I have not developed the depth of relationships that I did during my formative years in Cleveland. A team attitude, a common understanding, inherent trust —values that I used to take for granted aren't as readily available as they are in my hometown.

Our championship is bigger than basketball. It's also about our shared values. We get that. We are united. We are Cleveland.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The GREATEST day in Cleveland sports history?

As a self-appointed spokesman for the city of Cleveland, I must tell LeBron James this:

In my life, there's been heartache and pain.
I don't know if I can face it again.

LeBron, one more thing:

I wanna know what love is.
I want you to show me.
I wanna feel what love is.
I know you can show me.

Just like my brethren in Northeast Ohio, I had a giddy day of goodness as King James announced his return to our underrated and much-maligned city. I strangely got chills writing that sentence. Talk about drama! Talk about excitement!

There's excitement in the air come and watch them play — Cavs! Taking on the best in the NBA. Cavs! Cavs! Cavs!

(That was a jingle from back in the '80s when Mark Price dished many a pretty pass to Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance, Ron Harper or even John "Hot Rod" Williams.)

For four grueling years of hopelessness, I have loathed LeBron James more than any living human being. Come to think of it, he was the only human I've loathed. For my own emotional health, I have tried to forgive him for his stupid-a$$ "Decision," but I could not. I was stuck in the anger mode of healing for four years and just couldn't get out that mode.

As a news alert from the New York Times came on my iPhone, my whole emotionality turned upside down in an instant. This was the opposite of a trauma. This was shocking, amazing, smiley face time, bona fide glee. I somehow even broke the news to my brother and mother. Throughout the day, I put my fingers in the air and rubbed them like Johnny Manziel. My daughters and I repeatedly did the finger rub in Souplantation.

A flurry of emotion hit when the news struck, and I simply surmise this is what Andre 3000 means when he sings:

I think I'm in love again.
Baby, you are the prototype.
Do sumn' outta the ordinary. 

Today could have possibly been "THE GREATEST DAY IN CLEVELAND SPORTS HISTORY" (since 1964). Hyperbole? Maybe. But even if the Cavs never win a championship, or even if they do, the scales of justice balanced out today. That could better than a championship.

Of course, analyzing today as potentially THE GREATEST DAY IN CLEVELAND SPORTS HISTORY also underscores how horrible our city's sports history has been in my lifetime. Yes, we nearly won the World Series in 1997 with one of the glorious Tribe teams of the '90s, but they coughed up the lead in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 and then lost in extra innings. Ouch!

I've always said that you learn more in making mistakes and in losing than you do with winning, and that is why Northeast Ohio has the most self-knowlegeable people on the planet. Seriously, through years of being a gamer and a fierce competitor, I know that competition is not about the end result. It's about the ride.

LeBron's return is going to put my beloved Cleveland on an internationally envied ride. Yeah, it would be nice if he and the Cavs sealed the deal with a championship. I do yearn to have just one Cleveland championship in my lifetime, and if that happens before I'm 50, it will be 28 years earlier than I thought it might happen (I used an abacus for that calculation).

But, really, goodness is in the air. I feel great. I feel alive. My trip to Cleveland last week helped, reading the book "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" by Dr. Seuss to my daughters also helped.

Yes, LeBron was an Outkast for the past four years. We viewed him as a Foreigner. 

LeBron, as Andre 3000 also sings in "Prototype," I must say:

Girl, right now I wanna say, I wanna say
I wanna say stank you very much
For picking me up
And bringing me back to this world...
I wanna say stank you, stank you.