Being a sports fan in Cleveland does not make for an easy life, considering the the rollercoaster of emotions the teams from the region have put their supporters through.
The Cleveland Browns are renowned for their collapses in the 1980s in the two AFC Championship matches against the Denver Broncos, nicknamed ‘The Drive’ and ‘The Fumble’.
Broncos quarterback John Elway led a 99-yard drive to lead his side to the Super Bowl, breaking Browns’ hearts, while one year later running back Ernest Byner fumbled on the goalline against the same opponent, spurning the chance to tie the game.
Cleveland have endured similar horror shows in the world of basketball and baseball. A young man by the name of LeBron James aimed to break the ‘Cleveland Curse’ after being drafted first overall by his home state club in 2003.
However, after seven fruitless seasons, including a crushing 4-0 loss in the NBA Finals in 2007, he opted to leave the club, pouring further heartbreak on the region.
Hope sprung eternal when he opted to end his successful stint with the Miami Heat to re-join the Cavs in 2014, and in his second stint back at the club he led them to a stunning victory over the Golden State Warriors by rallying from a two-game deficit to clinch their first NBA Championship.
The city of Cleveland had gone 52 years without one of their major sports teams tasting victory on the big stage until Tyronn Lue’s men delivered at Oracle Arena.
James and his teammates raised the level of their displays to new heights to turn the series on its head and defeat one of the greatest sides in NBA history.
Despite the Cavaliers’ success, they are behind the Warriors in the early NBA betting odds for the 2016/17 season, at 14/5 to retain their crown.
LeBron’s first departure from Cleveland led to a slump in their form, leading many Cavaliers’ supporters to wonder whether the curse would ever be broken.
The turning point would come when the Cavaliers ended the 2013/14 campaign with a 33-49 record, as the club failed to reach the post-season under head coach Mike Brown. He was unable to conjure a surge to the playoffs in his first term back at the club, resulting in his firing by owner Dan Gilbert.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat’s failure in the 2014 NBA Finals ended LeBron’s career in Florida, making him a free agent and thus allowing him to return home back to Cleveland.
The Cavs bolstered their forward line with the addition of Kevin Love in a trade deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, to leave the club with a potent trio of LeBron, Love and Kyrie Irving.
The trio were on form in the 2014-15 regular season, guiding the Cavs back to the playoffs before they eased past the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks to set up their clash against the Warriors.
However, the Cleveland curse reared its head and struck the team as Love was sidelined due to a shoulder injury, while Irving sustained a dislocated kneecap in game one of the Finals, leaving LeBron to battle on with little support.
The forward went point-for-point with league MVP Steph Curry, notching 40 points or over in three of the six matches, but it proved not to be enough for the Cavaliers as the Warriors secured the 4-2 victory.
Tyronn Lue was promoted to head coach after ructions between LeBron and David Blatt saw the 56-year-old leave the club, despite their 30-11 record.
Lue ensured that the team qualified for the post-season, where they made the Finals once again by overcoming the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors.
However, the Cavs regained the initiative to set up a rematch against the Warriors, who had broken the Chicago Bulls’ regular-season win record on their march to the Finals.
Draymond Green starred for the Warriors to send them into a 3-1 lead, but his suspension in game five brought Cleveland back into the series allowing LeBron and Irving to dominate.
The duo outshone Curry, Green and Klay Thompson in the rest of the series, while Love also had his moments to pull off one of the most memorable comebacks in the history of the NBA, ending Cleveland’s drought on the big stage.