It’s a Cleveland celebration!

IMG_20160103_180356                                         A fan from Saint Lucia celebrates (Photo: Denis Darcy)

Celebrate Cleveland! Celebrate; you have a right to celebrate! Yes, all have a right to celebrate. The people have a right to celebrate; LeBron James has a right to celebrate; Kyrie Erving has a right to celebrate; the Cavaliers have a right to celebrate; the NBA has a right to celebrate; the fans have a right to celebrate; the whole basketball world has a right to celebrate.

Before Sunday night, 19 June 2016, the Cleveland Cavilers’ Game 7 victory over the Golden States Worriers and the NBA Championship, a Cleveland team had not won a major sports championship since 27 December, 1964, when the Cleveland Browns, won the NFL title. In 1964, the NBA had only nine teams and the Cleveland Cavaliers weren’t one of them. Moreover, about 63 percent of Cleveland’s current population would have no sentiment attachment to the Cleveland Browns, for they were not even born yet.

The Cleveland Cavaliers franchise which begun to play in the NBA in 1970, had won five Central Division championships (1976, 2009, 2010, 2015, and 2016), three Eastern Conference championships (2007, 2015, 2016), but had never won an NBA Championship. LeBron James and the Cavaliers had a bitter taste of the NBA finals in 2007. This was Cleveland’s first trip to the NBA Finals in their franchise history and San Antonio’s fourth. The Spurs swept the Cavaliers 4 games to 0

James, born in Akron and educated at St Mary High School, opted to leave Cleveland in 2010, in a great fanfare on ESPN, to join the Miami Heats to the anger of the whole of Ohio. He returned after four years, having learnt from the school of life, after winning two championships for Heats. What he said drove to return as the ;prodigal son was most sobering: “Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.” His aim was to bring his home state an NBA Championship – and he did.

With that said, one can understand why the 198,000 people in Akron; the 390,000 people in Cleveland and the 11.6 million people in the state of Ohio, have a right to celebrate for a very long time. The lyrics of the song, “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang is so appropriate. It says: “It’s a celebration … Celebrate good times, come on!… It’s a celebration; Celebrate good times, come on!… There’s a party goin’ on right here; A dedication to last throughout the years; So bring your good times and your laughter too; We gonna celebrate and party with you; Come on now, celebration; Let’s all celebrate and have a good time, yeah yeah; Celebration; We gonna celebrate and have a good time; It’s time to come together; It’s up to you, what’s your pleasure?”

Cleveland must celebrate because they are celebrating history, greatness, and endurance. When one appreciates where the Cavilers came from behind, to clinch a seemingly impossible victory, the whole basketball world should celebrate with them. They won three straight games (games 5, 6 and 7), with arguably three of the greatest individual performances one would ever see in basketball history. One commentator puts it this way: “It’s difficult to forget amid the roar of the cathartic, long-overdue celebration happening in Cleveland, but a little more than a week ago, this Cavs team was cooked. Done. A footnote in the Warriors’ historic run. They were down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to a Warriors team that appeared far superior. LeBron didn’t look like his former self — his world-beating self — and it was going to take that level of play, or better, to come back and do what 32 other teams in NBA history had failed to do — what every Cleveland team since 1964 had failed to do. The grade of the road to glory could not have been steeper.”

If LeBron James was already a future Hall of Fame, on Sunday night, 19 June 2016, he was immortalized with the many of the NBA stars and team leaders – the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. This is why he has the right to cry; to wail; to and to celebrate.

But James could not do it alone. He had a team for support this time unlike NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in 2015. And they have rights to celebrate. LeBron James’ triple-double, and Kyrie Irving’s late 3-pointer gave the Cleveland Cavaliers a 93-89 Game 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. And in addition to ending Cleveland’s 52-year title drought, the Cavaliers became the first team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA championship.

Guys, the mark of greatness must be noted. James’ relentless, never-count-them-out Cavs pulled off an improbable NBA Finals comeback, and brought Cleveland a long awaited Championship. In doing so, James delivered on a vow to his home state and brought the Cavs back from the brink as they became the first team to rally from a 3-1 finals deficit, beating the defending champion Golden State Warriors 93-89 on Sunday night to end a 52-year major sports championship drought in Cleveland. And the natives of Akron rattled off moments from the lengthy list of Cleveland sports heartbreak and said what it meant for them to bring the home state their first major in so long years.

This reminds me of the promise of God, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). The 1968 song “Weeping May Endure for a Night, But Joy Comes in the Morning” by James Cleveland and the Southern California Choir says: Behind every dark cloud; there’s a silver lining; and after each rain storm; there’s a brand new dawn. When trouble greet you; and your friends deceive you; don’t you worry; it will all pass over; it will pass over with the morning. Weeping may endure for the night; but joy will come in the morning; Weeping may endure for the night; But joy will come in the morning

And to crown it all, LeBron James gave the Fathers of Ohio, a Father’s Day gift – the NBA Championship Trophy. What a gesture from a kid from raised by a single mother! Celebrate for the entire year – Celebrate like the Kool and the Gang! Celebrate you people. You have a right to celebrate.

As a basketball fan irrespective of spur age (young, generation X. generation y, Bay boomer), can we learn the lessons of patient in endurance; the lesson of steadfast in purpose from the native of Cleveland Ohio?  Yes, we can! Remember, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13, NIV.

Peter Adrien is an author, business coach, financial counselor, economic adviser and columnist. Visit: www.goadriens.com. Contact him via email: peter@goadriens.com; phone: (869) 668-9752 (St Kitts & Nevis) or (305) 848-7604 (USA); twitter: @goadriens; facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Goadriens

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