On June 19, 2016, I was 25 years old. Although I had only been alive for a little less than half of the 52 years that the city of Cleveland had gone without a major sports championship, it seemed like an eternity at some points of those years. During my 25 years of being a Cleveland sports fan alone, we suffered through some dismal Browns seasons, saw the Browns bolt for Baltimore and leave the shores of Lake Erie without an NFL team for three years, saw a juggernaut Indians team lose two World Series in the 1990s, and saw LeBron James leave the Cavs and eventually return four years later. Whether it was The Drive, The Fumble, The Move, The Decision, or a number of other things, it can be argued that not a single fan base had suffered as much as Cleveland’s did from 1964 to 2016.
But on that fine night in mid-June last summer, those 52 years didn’t matter anymore. No one could ever say that Cleveland was without a championship since 1964. No one could rag on Cleveland fans because, well, they’re Cleveland fans. No one could continually make fun of what Cleveland fans had been through over the years. And last but not least, no one could say that the city of Cleveland hadn’t won a major sports championship in 52 years.
Yeah, it was a total team effort to force the Golden State Warriors to blow a 3-1 lead, but there were two moments in Game 7 that helped the Cavs secure a win and secure the Cavs’ first championship in the franchise’s long history. The first was The Block. Those two words will forever be linked to LeBron James. The second was The Shot. One shot by Kyrie Irving, a three-pointer from the foul-line extended and in Steph Curry’s face, gave the Cavs the lead for good. Even with all of the horrible things that had happened to Cleveland teams in the previous 52 years, it was a single shot that helped bury all those sad emotions, all those reasons why it wasn’t fun being a Cleveland sports fan, all those reasons why Cleveland fans were made fun of, and last but certainly not least, all those emotions that turned into screams, cheers, and excitement across Northeast Ohio on June 19, 2016 and in the early morning of June 20, let alone the celebration in the week that followed. All it took was The Shot, and for that, Kyrie Irving will forever be engraved as one of the greatest players to ever put on a Cavs jersey.
Thank you, Kyrie. pic.twitter.com/0tzTHyA01p
— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) August 22, 2017
The way his time in Cleveland quickly came to an abrupt end was surprising and somewhat disappointing, but no matter what happened that caused him to ask to be traded or made him want to leave Cleveland, what happened a mere 14 months ago was the greatest moment in Cleveland sports history. Nothing can ever take that away from any of us.
Some Cavs fans may be unhappy about the fact that Irving requested a trade, which eventually led to him being traded to the Celtics Tuesday night, but nothing will ever be able to take away what happened the night of June 19, 2016, and for that I am forever grateful. For what he did on the special night, I will be a lifelong fan of the man people like to call Uncle Drew.
It will be strange to see Irving in a different uniform, especially in Celtic green. Keep in mind, the Celtics and Cavs will tipoff the NBA season on October 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. That was already going to be a great game between two of the East’s best, but now that it includes Irving playing at Cleveland in his first game with the Celtics, it’s a must-see.
Thank you for hitting the biggest shot in Cleveland history and for helping end Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought, Kyrie Irving.