Learning to Believe…AGAIN!

by Dr. Yolanda Bruce Brooks

Learning to Believe…AGAIN!

When you know you have to do what's never been done before...what would YOU do?

…You BELIEVE it can be done! 

Game 7 of the NBA finals taught the sports world a lesson it almost forgot - in sports as in life, never say never!

Sport-consumed Clevelanders endured.  For 52 years, they were besieged season after season, sport after sport by deflated dreams of those glory days of yesteryears.  The seasons changed, the sport changed, but the losing continued - until now.  Winning the NBA championship was cathartic, a catalyst for healing the collective pain suffered by Clevelanders and fans of their teams. Some never stopped believing despite doubts emerging at season's end. It became an annual ritual, an oft-repeated prayer "we'll get it done, next year!"  The constant presence of silvery clouds were not enough to cloak the rays of hope deeply embedded in the hearts of these northeastern Ohio sports fans. Their collective hope amongst a world of doubters strengthened their resolve that what had never before happened could happen to them. And it did! Somehow, the unbelievable happened and the world took a trip to that land of the forgotten. The place once so rich with sports champions and Hall of Famers it was nicknamed "Title Town.” Now it’s forever changed. Welcome to Believeland; the place where the unbelievable happens… to those who believe. 

What did Cleveland earn BEFORE the 52 year drought?  Cleveland had a deeply rooted and rich history of exceptional sports teams and individual performers. Football Hall of Famer Paul Warfield was a member of the Browns 1964 NFL championship team. Their 27-0 win over the Baltimore Colts marked the beginning of the end of a prideful sports era.

In a recent interview, Paul reminisced:

The immortal Jesse Owens' feats at the 1936 Olympic Games brought worldwide acclaim to Cleveland.  As did Harrison Dillard, another Clevelander who earned gold in the 1948 games in London, England.  Marion Motley, Horace Gilliam, and Len Ford of the Cleveland Browns, all contributed to team championships for Cleveland in the late 40's and mid 50's.  Another team title would not return to the 'best location in the nation' until 1964 when the Browns would again reward their loyal fan base with the moniker " Title Town."  Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Gene Hickerson and yours truly all were a part of that effort. One half century, 18 months later Believelanders numbering 1 million gathered in downtown Cleveland to show their Cavalier's and the nation just how strong they believe.

The ESPN 30-for-30 documentary Believeland exposed the heartache experienced by the fans while inspiring a vision of the possibilities. The man leading the charge in inspiring hope while restoring pride in the fans was vilified just a few years ago.  Ohio native LeBron James removed their doubt and revitalized the dormant Believelanders. He said upon his migration back to the North Shore from South Beach, ”In northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned."  After leading the Cavs back from a 3 game deficit in the NBA Finals and being named the Finals MVP he stated, "I came back for a reason. I came back to bring a championship to our city. I knew what I was capable of doing. I knew what I learned in the last couple years that I was gone, and I knew if I had to - when I came back, I knew I had the right ingredients and the right blueprint to help this franchise get back to a place that we've never been. That's what it was all about,” he said.

Cleveland is having a moment and what a moment it is when you believe!

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