A lot can happen in 52 years.
You are born. You travel through childhood and experience the awkwardness of adolescence before making your way into adulthood. From there you land a career and start a family. Shortly thereafter you become a grandparent and have a plan for retirement in mind.
A lot can happen in 52 years.
You could receive nearly half a dozen PhDs.
You could circle the world by plane about 9,000 times.
And perhaps most impressive, God, if he worked at his biblically reported speed, could've created the world 3,000 times over.
A lot can and did happen in the past 52 years but not so much for the town of Cleveland, Ohio -- at least not the good stuff.
The city's last championship was the Browns' 27-0 win over the Baltimore Colts in 1964 -- three years before the first Super Bowl. To help put this into perspective, 1964 was also the year Nelson Mandela was given a life sentence in South Africa. That was also the year U.S. government officials began talking about cigarette smoking and its relation to cancer. That year was the last time Cleveland fans experienced a big win.
Fifty-two years is a long wait for a city with three major sporting teams. Together, we've watched one disappointment after another hit the Cleveland Indians, Browns and Cavaliers.
Folks are still irate at the late Art Modell for relocating the Browns to Baltimore in 1995. Then in 2010, Northeast Ohio's hero, LeBron James, devastated fans when he announced on live television that he was "taking my talents to South Beach". People burned his jersey and cried before T.V. news cameras. It was a hot mess. It's been a hot mess.
All of the loss, upsets and disappointments does something to the spirit. It affects us individually and, when we're collectively cheering for the same thing, it affects the entire community. Sports is a big deal in this town. Always has been, always will be. Cleveland needed to win something, not for bragging rights, but to revive the soul of the people. We needed something to unite us.
I was born and raised in Ohio and Cleveland is my home. I started my company, Rising Media LLC in the C-land and it was a challenging move. I started my Woman of Power Leadership Conference in Cleveland and it was a long, tough road. LeBron James hit it on the head when he said, "Nothing is given here, you've got to earn it." It's a hard town because folks have experienced such hardships and hard times, and not just in the sporting arena.
But none of that matters anymore.
The CAVS brought home perhaps the sweetest victory this town has ever seen after clinching the NBA Championship on Sunday. The reward was so very badly needed. It was surreal. We've supported our teams through the good and the bad, or as LeBron has said, "We ride or die with them". We've had their backs for so long. We wear their jerseys and buy into their brands.
Yes, it's a win for the CAVS franchise and for LeBron and company, but none of that compares to what it does for the people of Northeast Ohio. It gives us a bump in the right direction. It allows us to feel a sense of validation, like we belong to an important club. We want the world to know that, even though we're not surrounded by a sunny beach or Wall Street district, we matter.
We want and need to feel like we're valued and that our teams are just as good as anyone else's -- no matter how hard of a time we've had or our parents have had. No matter what the former reports say about our hometown.
Over the years, the jokes have poured out calling our beloved town "The Mistake on the Lake". People believed we were under a spell, and I sensed an uneasiness too. But maybe in all of that time we were being prepared for this moment.
No one in this town is thinking about any of the voodoo hoopla stuff now. It's all about feeling the victory, feeling vindicated, validated and completely gratified.
Cleveland has taken on a new name and I believe a new meaning. "Believeland" has filtered through our social media threads and homemade signs. We pump our fists to it because we believe. We believe in what's possible, even when analysts shared the predictions and quoted history: "no team has ever recovered from a 3-to-1 deficit and won in a NBA final." Oh yes, we did that. We broke that record, we did what many called impossible.
We will be celebrating in Cleveland for a long, long time because we can, but more importantly because we need to. We matter. We bring value to our city and to the world. We're celebrating right now in Cleveland. We're ALL IN. So excuse us world if we party on like this for another six months or six years. Trust me, this win will never get old. We are revived by the King and his court so excuse us if we don't sit down any time soon.