After a 52-year drought in Cleveland sports, the Cavaliers brought back a reason for the city to celebrate: an NBA Championship.
Cleveland came back from 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. LeBron James led the team and became the first player in NBA Finals history to lead both teams in every major statistical category as he took home the Finals MVP award and kept his promise to bring a championship to Northeast Ohio.
“For us to be able to end this drought, our fans deserve it,” James said following game seven. “I came back for a reason; I came back to bring a championship to our city.”
Cleveland sports fans have experienced a plethora of heartbreaks for half a century and on June 22, 1.3 million people came out to celebrate a long overdue championship. The streets were filled with fans of all ages to celebrate the end of “The Curse” that has plagued the city.
Each player at the championship celebration was given an opportunity to speak to the crowd of fans, and while James thanked every teammate individually, it was J.R. Smith’s emotional post-game interview and unwillingness to put on a shirt, that became the talk of the nation.
“I’m not wearing a shirt so don’t ask,” Smith said at the parade. “I think the last time I took my shirt off was after the game, and I gave it to my dad and I ain’t put one on since.”
The Kent Stater staff attended the championship parade and captured a moment that will be remembered for years to come.