For the first time in 7 years there is little hope of the playoffs, let alone the championship in Cleveland. The post-LeBron era begins with the 2010-11 NBA Season in Cleveland. Thankfully the local media has yet to cover the NBA season daily, possibly knowing that the fans are not ready yet for the wave of humiliation that is sure to come. For many fans this is the first time following the Cavs without LeBron, and for far many more, it's the first time following LeBron without the Cavs.
After reading more than a few national articles about the events that transpired this spring concerning the Cavs, I wanted to shed light on what it is like to be a Cleveland Sports fan. Not the bandwagon Cavs fans that joined during the LeBron years, I am speaking about the true, long-standing Cleveland sports fan.
To understand fully why the Cleveland sports fan was so let down, upset, and angry over this springs events, one must look at the history of Cleveland sports in the modern era:
1964 - The most recent championship by a professional sports team from Cleveland
1974 - 10 cent beer night at an Indians baseball game, no limit on purchases, need I say more?
1978 - The NHL folds the Cleveland Barons franchise
1987 - The Drive - Elway leads the Broncos 98 yards in the 4th quarter with 1:47 on the clock in Cleveland, to tie the AFC Championship game against the Browns, then beat the Browns in overtime to advance to The Superbowl. This would be the closest the Browns get to date to the Superbowl.
1988 - The Fumble - Byner fumbles on a run that would've tied the AFC Championship game against Elway and the Broncos in Denver.
1989 - The Shot - Michael Jordon hits a 15 foot jumper at the buzzer to bounce the Cavs from the playoffs. This is arguably was the best TEAM the Cavs have ever had to date.
1994 - The Indians move into their new stadium and are looking like contenders, finally. The MLBPA strikes, no playoffs, no World Series. Browns owner, Art Modell, who refused to move into the new stadium, voices concerns on how Cleveland city leaders are treating he and the Browns.
1995 - Art Modell announces he is moving his collection of NFL players out of Cleveland. Browns fans voice their protests via emails, faxes and phone calls to NFL headquarters. The NFL sides with the fans, sort of, and declares the Browns name, colors and history will stay in Cleveland and a new team will begin play in 1999.
1995 - The Indians make the World Series for the first time since 1954, lose in six games to the Braves. The Braves only won one World Series in the modern era, in 1995.
1997 - The Indians return to the World Series, lose in seven games to the Marlins. In doing so, become the only team in history to lose the Series in game seven, holding the lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs.
2000 - Art Modell and the Ravens win the Superbowl. Art couldn't do it for 34 years while in Cleveland.
2010 - LeBron leaves the Cavs.
This list is a lot for a fan to take in. But Cleveland fans did, do and will continue to. All the fans of Cleveland sports will, that includes Mr James.
Mr. James has told the fans of Cleveland, multiple times, that he knows what they are feeling in terms of the wish to have a winner in town. He has seen The Drive, The Fumble, The World Series losses. He assured the Cleveland fans he would do everything he could to bring the championship to town. He spoke in such a way about the history of sports in Cleveland, a fan would have no second thoughts about Mr. James's loyalties to the team or the city. He was very convincing of his dedication to the sports fans of Cleveland.
In 2003 when Gordon Gund drafted Mr. James, the Cleveland sports fans hoped it would work. They did not, however, think for a minute that it was going to be an immediate or a smooth sail to a championship. But Mr. James talked and talked and talked and kept putting the "I Love Cleveland, Akron, Ohio" spin on everything that the fans couldn't resist to believe the talk.
Cleveland has had many great sports players, none near the level of Mr. James, but when the players played in Cleveland, the fans didn't know of Mr James. Webster Slaughter, Bernie Kosar, Clay Matthews, Ernst Byner, Kevin Mack, Ozzie Newsome, Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Omar Vizquel, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton are all names that many fans know and all have played in the modern era for Cleveland sports teams. Many on this list left or were pushed out-of-town and achieved success elsewhere.
Mr James is different from these players though, he told the Cleveland fans what they wanted to hear. He told them he was different, he told them he understood them, he told them he would do his best to win a championship for the team, fans and city. He sold a bill of goods and never delivered.
That all being said, the Cavs fans that are left will be treated to a competitive team. The owner, Dan Gilbert, is not one to sit and watch a lame duck team for too long. He will do what he can to bring talent to the Cavs to get that championship. Maybe he will do so a bit harder than he did before, because Mr. James also tried selling him the same bill of goods.