The Cleveland Cavaliers are the 2016 NBA champions defeating The Golden State Warriors in heart-stopping historic game 7
June 20, 2016 – CNN
Snapping a 52-year championship drought that had loomed like a hex over this sports-mad metropolis of 2 million people, the Cleveland Cavaliers toppled the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors in what sports fans will doubtless call “one for the ages.”
No, the series wasn’t pretty — the first six games all ended in double-digit wins dictated by home-court advantage — but those who tuned in for Game 7 got a treat. And judging from footage of elated or slack-jawed fans running through the streets, it appeared the whole city of Cleveland tuned in.
Between the Cavs’ Quicken Loans Arena and the Cleveland Public Square, throngs decked out in the Cavs’ wine-and-gold colors flooded the streets some 2,500 miles away from the Oakland’s Oracle Arena, where LeBron James & Co. had ended Cleveland’s ring-less streak.
The fans — many of them rocking James’ No. 23 — ran, danced, pumped fists, jumped, embraced, cried and gave high fives. They held up shirts that said, “Defend Cleveland” and twirled towels saying, “Cleveland Against the World.” At Gateway Plaza, adjacent to the arena, an undulating mass of people with hands raised sang and cheered for their hometown hoopsters.
“Believe It!” cried the front page of The Plain Dealer, above a broadsheet-long photo of star LeBron James weeping and holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy like an infant.
“It’s over,” read the caption. “OK, Cleveland sports fans, take a deep breath, then say those two words – it`s over.”
The way in which the Cavaliers won the title served only to stoke the faithful’s glee. The Cavs didn’t just win: They beat a juggernaut that had set a franchise record with 73 regular-season wins; they smothered back-to-back league MVP Stephen Curry, holding him to 40% shooting; they came back from a 3-to-1 series deficit, the 11th team ever to do so and the first to do it in the NBA Finals; and they took Game 7 in Golden State’s house — the first road Game 7 Finals win since the Washington Bullets’ 1978 win over the Seattle Supersonics.
The win came after several minutes of clumsy basketball by both teams. The game had gone back-and-forth for the first 47 minutes, with neither team establishing any dominance. But when the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving let a three-pointer fly in Curry’s face, it rang true, breaking an 89-89 tie with 53 seconds remaining.
You knew it was going to be a big deal as soon as Curry hoisted up a brick with seconds left. It clanked off the rim, as so many of his shots in the series had.
Even with Marreese Speights collecting the rebound and floating to the corner for another three-point try, you could see the Cavs’ bench standing — teeming, giddy — waiting to rush the floor for this historic moment. Speights’ shot was long, and within seconds, the court was covered in Cleveland faithful.
“Our fans, they ride or die, no matter what’s been going on, no matter the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs and so on, and all other sports teams,” James told reporters. “They continue to support us. And for us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them.”