This one’s for Cleveland.

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I’ve never felt thrilled for another city’s fans. Not like this.

That is nearly the exact same intro I used for my column May 14, 2010, the day after the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics — AKA the final game LeBron played as a member of the Cavs until his return last year.

You’ll notice, though, that it’s not EXACTLY the same intro. We’ve got one key word that’s different. Forget “ill.” Add “thrilled.”

Tonight, the city of Cleveland got their wish. An 8-year-old Cleveland Browns fan in 1964 figured “I can get used to this championship-winning life.” Except no, no you can’t, because until tonight that 8-year-old fan spent 52 years without another championship. That 8-year-old is 60 years old now, and finally, finally, has seen Championship #2.

I shudder at the notion of someone telling that 8-year-old what the next 52 years would bring. Think of any way a team can lose, and a Cleveland team has lost that way. Two weeks ago I brought my wife up to speed on the history of Cleveland sports — her face looked like I was describing an alien attack.

The Fumble. The Drive. The Shot. The Blown Save. The Stolen Franchise. The Decision. We know the gruesome tale by heart.

And that’s over now.

The Cleveland Cavaliers won Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are NBA champs.

The best sports story I ever wrote came the day after LeBron announced he was going to Miami. I imagined my reaction to that news had I been a nine-year-old Cavs fan — essentially how I would have reacted if MJ left the Bulls in the summer of 1990.

I thought for sure I was going to write a sequel to that story tonight. As I told my brother two weeks ago, the Warriors were just too much.

As I told him tonight, I’ve never been happier to be wrong.

I began the night tweeting counter arguments to every reason why people “hate” LeBron, but I ended it in a deeper, more important place: reflecting on the power of sports.

I am a sports fan. Tried and true. And if you love your teams and you love your city, I do not see how it is possible to not be in love with what happened tonight for the city of Cleveland. That city went 146 combined NBA, NFL, MLB seasons without a championship. 146! People talk about the 107-year championship drought for the Chicago Cubs, but the Bears have been champs nine times since then, the Bulls and Blackhawks six times each, and the White Sox (for those blasphemous “I root for Chicago!” fans among us) once.

That’s a lot of confetti my friends.

Tonight, it falls on Cleveland. If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what to tell you.

Copyright 2016, jm silverstein

Jack M Silverstein is the author of “How The GOAT Was Built: 6 Life Lessons From the 1996 Chicago Bulls“. Say hey @readjack.

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