At last, a championship game with a happy ending

Russ Kent - Contributing columnist

The party ain’t over yet.

Thousands of long-suffering Cleveland sports fans are milling around the downtown area today. Depending when you read this column, the celebratory parade for the Cavaliers is hours away, just getting started or already over. But surely, another round of toasts are just around the corner.

Sunday night’s victory party could go on for days. A family friend texted her mother a little before midnight Sunday. This college student told her mom she was headed for Cleveland to join the party. “Seriously. Mom, the Cavs just won and I’m not missing this celebration.”

The streets in C-town were filled with thousands of frenzied fans celebrating Cleveland’s first “major sports” championship in more than five decades. One fan interviewed Sunday evening on TV suggested his partying might not end until Clevelanders can celebrate another title. For the sake of this man’s liver, let’s hope the next one isn’t another 50 years in the making.

The NBA is making millions of dollars off the sale of hats, shirts and other paraphernalia celebrating the Cavs’ win. But the amount of alcohol consumed before and after the game — and the amount spent on hangover remedies this week in and about Cleveland — should add up to a few million, too.

Winning is good for business. It’s not necessarily good for slumber.

The game ended before midnight. I was up past 3 a.m. watching inane post-game shows and commentary. I typically hate that stuff. But this game was different. This time Cleveland won.

As the clock wound down in the fourth quarter, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was waiting for a foul, or a bad call, or a missed dunk, or an errant foul shot to ruin this improbable championship run.

That’s what Cleveland sports fans do. We hope for the best, but we prepare for the worst.

It’s not that I’m a pessimist. I’m one of the most optimistic people in know.

But I’m also a realist. If you’re a Cleveland sports fan, you have to be. On Sunday, I just knewsomething terrible was going to happen in the waning seconds of that game. It had to happen. That’s how life happens in the city by the lake. For 50 years, we’ve watched that other shoe drop.

Only this time it didn’t.

Kevin Love gave Steph Curry all kinds of fits on the Warriors’ final possession. And Curry’s final second prayer didn’t even come close to going through the rim.

Finally, the game clock reached zero.

And I couldn’t even celebrate. I sat on the sofa stunned, a tear or two ran down my cheek.

I was stunned, into silence.

And I wasn’t the only one. My Facebook feed on my phone was oddly lacking in Cavs chatter for several minutes. I think the huge collective of Cleveland sports fans took one great big breath, and then another, and then one more, just to make sure this had really happened.

It took me more than a few minutes to get my composure. Literally, for more than 10 minutes, I just sat there looking at the TV. My hands, my whole body, was shaking so hard I could not do much of anything. I wanted to post something clever on Twitter, on Facebook. I was looking around my living room for something I could take a picture of to post on Snapchat, or Instagram. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t stop shaking. My hands wouldn’t cooperate.

If you aren’t one of us — a long-suffering, self-depricating, expecting-the-worst, ready-to-eat-humble pie fan — you truly do not know what that NBA Championship felt like.

For most of you, Sunday’s victory over the Golden State Warriors was … eh, OK.

It was a couple hours of some pretty good entertainment.

Lebron James won another title. Steph Curry didn’t.

But for me, this was a night unlike any other. Hopefully, not a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but if so, I’m OK with that.

Because for once, a Cleveland team came out on top.

And I’m not down in the dumps.

Russ Kent

Contributing columnist

Reach Kent at 419-468-1117 ext. 2050 or on Twitter @russkent.

Reach Kent at 419-468-1117 ext. 2050 or on Twitter @russkent.