Sunday Column: Why We Should All Root For Cleveland In The N.B.A. Finals
By Matt Noonan
The 2015 N.B.A. Finals have been a real treat.
Unlike past years that have pitted squads with championship resumes, this year’s finals features two teams representing cities desperate for hardware.
Cleveland hasn’t celebrated a championship since 1964, the year the Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts in the N.F.L. Championship.
Golden State – winners of the 1975 N.B.A. Finals – have come close to winning its fourth championship in franchise history, but have only appeared in the final round twice since defeating the Washington Bullets in four straight games.
Unlike Cleveland, Golden State, which plays its games in Oakland, has seen neighboring professional squads win titles. The Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers have won Super Bowls since the 1970’s, while the Oakland A’s captured the 1988 World Series, sweeping the San Francisco Giants in four game. The Giants have won a trio of championships since 2010, including their franchise’s eighth World Series crown last fall.
The San Jose Sharks, however, are the lone Bay Area team without a championship. San Jose has appeared in the Western Conference Finals three times since the turn of the century, but suffered setbacks to the Calgary Flames (2004), Chicago Blackhawks (2010) and Vancouver Canucks (2011).
So, who needs this title more? The answer would be both Cleveland, right?
If Cleveland wins the title then it will probably call-off school, work and everything else the following day. Yet, if the series does go the distance, I guess school would be cancelled the following Monday, right?
The Bay Area has celebrated multiple championships. So, while Oakland and San Francisco would rejoice in the Warriors’ fourth franchise crown, it may not feel as special as Cleveland finally getting over the hump and winning a title.
Cleveland has seen its baseball team come close to winning a World Series title since capturing the 1948 World Series.
In 2013, the Indians attempted to extend its campaign to the round of eight, but lost to Tampa Bay in a play-in-game, 4-0. Cleveland concluded the game with nine hits – one more than the Rays – but could not muster a single run.
In 2007, the Indians fell to the Boston Red Sox – remember when they were good? – in the American League Championship Series and dropped a pair of American League Division Series in 2001 and 1999.
Cleveland did, however, appear in 1995 and 1997 World Series, but did not win.
The Indians saw its best chance to end the city’s championship drought in 1997 when they prolonged their championship series with Florida to seven games following a 4-1 victory in the sixth game. Yet, despite an early two-run lead in the final game of the Series, the Marlins rallied to even the game at 2-2 before plating the final run in the bottom of the 11th to win their first-ever crown.
As for the Cleveland Browns, they haven’t earned a postseason victory since 1989 after defeating Buffalo, 34-30. The Browns advanced to the Conference Championship following their win against the Bills, but fell to the Denver Broncos for the second time in three seasons by a score of 37-21.
Cleveland outscored the Broncos, 21-14, during the third stanza, but did not register a single point during the final 15 minutes. John Elway connected with Sammy Winder for a 39-yard touchdown strike, while David Treadwell kicked a pair of field goals during the final session to send the Broncos to the Super Bowl.
Since the turn of the century, the Browns have posted a pair of winning seasons, including a 9-7 mark during their 2002 campaign. Yet, similar to past years, the Browns fell in the playoffs, losing to rival Pittsburgh. Cleveland registered a 10-win season in 2007 – their most wins in a single-season since 1994 – but did not qualify for the postseason.
Let the debate rage on, who needs this championship? Cleveland or the Bay Area? I guess you would say, Cleveland, right?
Initially, I chose to Golden State to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, but after rattling off Cleveland’s frustrating postseason setbacks, I guess I have to root for the Cavaliers.
Enjoy the remainder of the N.B.A. Finals and consider rooting for Cleveland, so they can finally celebrate a championship for the first time since “Can’t Buy Me Love” by The Beatles was a chart topper.