Many people wait their whole lives for that “it” moment. That moment when everything comes together and finally makes sense. The moment that makes you happier than any other moment has made you feel before. The moment that trumps all other times you thought it was the “it” moment.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have won the NBA Championship. It’s taken me a week to wrap my head around this fact let alone be able to express my feelings about it. I couldn’t watch with the thousands of viewers that gathered downtown, although part of me wishes I could have witnessed the beautiful chaos of a celebration it was. But. I’ve only ever been able to watch the Cavs one way: at home, paying attention to every single play, hanging on to Austin and Fred’s every last word (because they ARE the best in the business), and absolutely no distractions.
You see, I always sort of felt, that from the moment I understood basketball and fell in love with it at such a young age, that I was in an intimate relationship with the Cavs. I admit my obsession and my passion is unhealthy. I’ve stressed myself to the brink of physical exhaustion as each season passed, hoping and praying that one-day we’d finally get to hoist up that Larry O’Brien trophy. I attended games at “The Gund” and now “The Q” for so many years, from sitting in Loudville, to having floor seats, to sitting in suites, and every seat in-between. I was there the night we broke our 26-game losing streak against the Clippers the first season after LeBron had left. I couldn’t have been more proud. And I know that may sound funny to any non-Cavs fan or non-Clevelander, but I was honestly just so proud of any win. So, as you can imagine, the word “proud” doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling I felt on Sunday, June 19, Father’s Day, as the Cavs got that one big win we needed to call the championship title ours.
Every game in this Finals series made me anxious to the point of waking up on game days thinking about how the next 12 hours would go. Before games six and seven, I left work for the weekend telling Kara, “when I see you on Monday we’ll either be done or we’ll be champions.” Well, Monday rolled around, and I’ve got to say it was the best Monday I could have ever had. We were champions.
The best part about winning this championship is that when it still feels unreal, I can stop what I’m doing at any given moment and smile, thinking to myself, OH YEAH. It IS real. The city of Cleveland, my beloved home for 26 years, FINALLY, has another championship after 52 years. I will get butterflies in my stomach every second I remember this dream has finally come true.
I recently found out how my family came to be in Cleveland and when I heard the story from my great aunt, I could not have gotten more chills. In the 1950’s, my great aunt traveled to Cleveland from Italy to stay with godparents who had immigrated here. My great aunt is the oldest of six children, all of whom grew up in a small town in Sicily. I thank God every day she decided to come to America and fell in love with my late Uncle Leo (the truest Tribe fan you would have ever met), because she’s the reason my grandma ended up coming here too. The Calanni family is the epitome of Cleveland all the way. My grandpa has told me so many stories about how he never missed a day working at Davis Bakery on the east side and how he’d take the “rapida transita” (it’s cute when he says it) from the Triskett stop every single day, even in the snow. My dad and my aunt and uncles grew up knowing what hard work meant and lucky for me, they passed down their love for sports, too.
Sunday was quite a sigh of relief for the Calanni’s.
Then, came the parade.
Although it’s not my preference to celebrate with the masses (I’m selfish like that), Wednesday was a day I certainly could not miss. The electricity could be felt throughout Northeast Ohio’s entirety. It was great running into old friends and spending the day with some of my closest friends in life. Those who know just how much this championship means to me. I can’t really put into words what the championship parade was like. All I can say was that I came home that afternoon realizing how lucky I am to be Cleveland-born-and-raised.
I was meant to be a Clevelander, this I know for sure. It’s like that saying that LeBron kept mentioning in all of his post-series interviews: “God doesn’t put things in front of you that you can’t handle.” Well here it is, Cleveland. For 52 years, we faced loss and terrible sports heartbreak. We handled it. Not in a pretty way, but we handled it and kept that “next year will be different” mentality. 2016 was our reward. It was God’s way of saying that not only does he love Cleveland (you really played hard to get there for awhile, my man), but that we’re the strongest, toughest, grittiest, most appreciative, humble, and hardworking people of all time. How’s that for a happy ending?