Casey L. Moore, USA TODAY
Published 6:15 a.m. ET June 19, 2020
USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina breaks down how players could have a greater impact by using their platforms if the NBA returns.
Sure, some sports are back. But “sports” as we know them are largely still on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today is Day 100 without sports 🏀.
It was on this day four years ago that a championship drought for the ages finally came to a halt. And in historic fashion no less.
This was the day the Cleveland Cavaliers capped an unprecedented comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Yes, it’s safe to say June 19 is a date that no Cleveland sports fan will forget. It ended 50-plus years of frustration, giving the city its first championship in a professional sport since the 1964 Brownswon the NFL championship in the days before there was even a Super Bowl.
In between there was a sad series of single heartbreaking moments. Red Right 88. The Drive. The Fumble. The Shot. The Blown Save. The Move. The Decision. Something always went wrong for Cleveland and fans braced for it. They hoped for the best but expected the very worst.
So there’s no wonder why those tense closing minutes of Game 7 were that much more nerve-racking.
Klay Thompson’s layup with 4:39 left to play tied Game 7 at 89-89. It was also the last basket by either team for the next 3:46. During that scoreless spell there were 12 missed shots, including five off-target three-point attempts (four by the Warriors) and two blocked shots — including LeBron James’ seemingly improbable chase-down of what appeared to be a surefire two points for Andre Iguodala. The Block.
Shortly after that the scoring drought ended with Kyrie Irving’s step-back tiebreaking three against Steph Curry with 53 seconds remaining to give the Cavs a 92-89 lead. The Shot, Part II.
And Kevin Love’s tight defense on Curry on the next possession forced the Warriors star into an off-balance three-point attempt the clanked off the rim with just 30 seconds to play. The Stop.
James essentially sealed the game with a free throw with 10 seconds to go, but Cleveland fans kept holding their breath until the ball trickled away off a Curry missed three, taking the rest of the time on the clock along with it.
The championship was finally in hand, a wait that was longer than any other market with at least three pro teams in the four main sports. In one instant, those heartbreaking moments were all wiped away.
There was a new moment worth celebrating: The End.
So, in the words of LeBron: Cleveland! This one’s for you.
Video of the day
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Sports on TV
Soccer (live):The Premier League is back with a Friday doubleheader on NBC Sports Network: Norwich-Southampton at 12:55 p.m. ET and Tottenham-Manchester United at 3:10 p.m. ET.