I didn’t move for the entire second half. I chewed on my finger the whole time, leaving a raw patch, and didn’t move despite the pain in my shoulder until there was 10.3 seconds left and the hope was too much to handle.
I grew up in Cleveland. I was rooting for the Browns during The Drive and The Fumble. I was a Cavs fan every day they weren’t playing against Michael Jordan, but felt The Shot deeply. I cried every time the Indians let me down until my hope scabbed over and scarred like a wound.
In Cleveland losing in a spectacular fashion was so common, you always expected it and never were disappointed – crushed, yes, but not disappointed. Disappointment comes from expectations being dashed. But you become jaded. You hope for the best, but expect the crushing. It’s a coded language in Cleveland, an understood nod. We know it to be true and can talk about it among ourselves, but when someone from outside Cleveland brings it up, it hurts all over again.
The Cavs winning the NBA Championship was huge, not just because it was an incredible accomplishment in the face of staggering odds, but because it will force Clevelanders to find a new language, a new nod, a different outlook. Not a different outlook for our sports – though that will certainly be an outcome – but a different outlook for ourselves.
Change is hard. It’s very hard for Clevelanders like me. The moment you begin to see progress, you fall prey to hope. Hope is wonderful, but when you’re used to disappointment, it becomes a false signal. You sabotage that hope. You cut it off at the knees. Winning the championship means we have reason to hope, we have reason to cast aside our instincts to doubt and free ourselves to the notion of change.
I realize I’m making a big statement about something that is, in the grand scheme, pretty small, but it’s coming from a real place. I feel different today than I did 72 hours ago. I feel lighter, more positive. I’ve been reexamining my goals and what seemed impossible now seems not only possible, but achievable. I feel like I can do the work, like I want to in a way I haven’t wanted to over the last couple of months.
For an illogical and purely emotional reason, the Cavs victory is inspiring me to rewrite my script, to all hope to shape focus and focus to drown out doubt. And I don’t think I’m alone. I’ve spoken to several friends from Cleveland this week and they all say something similar – that the lack of being crushed feels strange and almost uncomfortable. The challenge will be to not settle back into old habits and to embrace the possibility for change.
Image Source: http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/news/releases/celebration-160619