Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cleveland, City of Light

"It's going to be lit up like Vegas" - LBJ 6/27/03
Let’s start with the hugs and the high-fives.

Hugged old friends and old-fashioned fans, new acquaintances and never-see-you-agains, hotel employees, homeless folks in knock-off gear, Tinder gals in XS throwbacks, hammered guys hanging from fire trucks, and hoards of haven’t-we-suffered-long-enough millennials.

High-fived friendly cops and future criminals, prostitutes and pawn-shop pimps, doubters that wielded pitchforks just a week ago, Hodors and Jon Snows, then, Jesus Christ, himself, resurrected right there on Prospect Ave. I may have even stuck my big-ass head through the passenger's side window of that red Hyundai from Boyz in the Hood and dared a foursome of psuedo-gangbangers to "show me u a champion." They obliged.

The whole planet shared in our joy on Sunday night, but only your fellow Clevelanders could comprehend it. This was truly the evening for no words, for locking eyes with strangers and knowing what surged through their bones. We walked the downtown streets we once thought snake-bit and laughed at the person we were just three hours ago. See, it was a collective out-of-body experience for the entire 216. LeBron would use Doris Burke's mic to scream our name, and we made sure he'd hear us shout back by overstuffing social media with Cleveland vanity vids, solely appropriate for celebrations a half century in the making.

Understand, Sundays of our past were five-star Greek Tragedies: Fumbles, drives, shots, and folding tables on dirt mounds (if you never read them, ESPN publishes the Cliffs Notes). But our Finals triumph felt like a rewrite for a new era. If you're like me and planned to retire from fandom and travel the earth in meditation once the title drought ended, you may want to hold off on your Uber to Hopkins. Because Sunday, June 19th, 2016 didn't feel like a journey's end, but rather the beginning of an East 9th Empire. One that has the fortitude to eventually spread north, and conquer the throne at 100 Alfred Lerner Way. Imagine Chief Wahoo, in his last, half-racist stand, with one dying push past the guards at The Factory of Sadness. OK...maybe scratch that thought. But winning breeds winning. Stipe. The Monsters of Lake Erie. The Larry O'Brien Trophy.

King James and The Land. Forever.