An Open Letter To Uncle Charles, Here's Everything You've Missed In Cleveland

Dear Uncle Charles,

I never got the chance to meet you, but I heard you were a great person. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if you liked sports, but hell, Cleveland is home to some of the best fans in the world, so it’s safe to assume, right? It’s been 20 years or more since the world was introduced to you.

"Man, I miss my Uncle Charles, Y'all" - Wish Bone

I don’t know if you are aware of what’s happening in the sports realm of Cleveland since you left us. To be honest, there has been a lot of bad. I mean A LOT of BAD. Like, there have been almost 100 quarterbacks who've played for the Browns since you last saw them. OK, I’m lying — the number is 28 (29 if you count Terrelle Pryor), but it sure feels like 100. But to hell with the bad; let’s focus on the good.

For the first time in what feels like forever, some good luck sprinkled on Cleveland’s sports teams. No, seriously, I’m not joking. I know, you still don’t believe me. But I’m being serious. For you, I know it’s hard to believe since you saw the fumble from Earnest Byner that led to the drive by John Elway. You also watched the shot by Michael Jordan over Craig Ehlo’s stretched arms that ended the Cavaliers' season.

I know the Cleveland sports misery continues to annoy many, but for a brief period, euphoria is at the forefront. This one guy who hails from nearby Akron, Ohio, broke many hearts in 2010 when he left the cold winters in Northeast Ohio for the sun and pulsating scene of Miami, Florida. His name is LeBron James. LeBron spent a four-year presidential-like term in South Beach and won two championships. After losing his second championship in Miami and third overall, he shockingly returned home to play for the Cavs yet again.

A more matured James returned to the Cavs with a business-like approach. He penned a letter to his fans and promised a championship to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Now, we all know, championships are a rarity in the Rock and Roll Capital of the World. But James had the gall to do it.

After spurning the Cavs, James felt as if he owed it to his hometown area. In his first season back, he fell two games short of the promise, but he put up a valid effort with one of the best NBA Finals in basketball history. As the Golden State Warriors (oh yeah, they are good too) sprayed champagne in Quicken Loans arena while hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy, it left a perturbed feeling for James and the Cavs.

The following year, that same Warriors team kicked everyone’s ass in the regular season and surpassed the Chicago Bulls' record of 72-10. They also have a kid that was born in Akron, Ohio, who can shoot the ball as deep as Lake Erie. His name is Steph Curry. Curry isn’t physically imposing like LeBron or Michael Jordan, but he’s tremendously talented.

During the brief reign of Curry-mania, many experts made the gaffe in calling Curry a better basketball player than LeBron. The fury inside of James to prove that he was still the best player in the NBA was burning, and it ignited one of the best NBA Finals performances in history. The Golden State Warriors were up 3-1 (you’ll learn more about the curse of 3-1 later), only needing one game to send James and Cavs home with failure once again.

But for the first time in NBA history, a team came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals. The beauty of that feat belonged to LeBron James and the Cavs.

Do you remember how disheartening “The Drive” and “The Shot” were in the '80s? Well, this time, the shoe was on the other foot. En route to their championship, the Cavs had their own version of late-game success. We know it as “The Block, the Shot and the Stop.” On the block, LeBron James hunted Andre Iguodala down like a cheetah chasing his prey in the wild and pinned his shot to the backboard. After the block, Kyrie Irving hit the go-ahead three-pointer, and Kevin Love of all people made the stop to seal the game for the Cavs.

For the first time since 1964, a professional team in Cleveland could call itself a champion. During that time, J.R. Smith becomes a shirtless marvel, and he presented to the world that #hennythingwaspossible. Smith would have been a favorite of yours. He’s enigmatic, care-free — a blend of Vernon Maxwell, Andre Rison and Bobby Brown (the sober one), if that makes any sense.


J.R. Smith is a national treasure

To no surprise, the city of Cleveland was proud of the Cavs, and over 1 million people joined the parade to celebrate the title. The championship success spearheaded by James and Cavs almost traveled a few blocks away for the Cleveland Indians.

Last night, the Indians lost the World Series to the Chicago Cubs, but they rallied together to have a great season. Like Golden State, Cleveland blew a 3-1 lead, but in the process, the Indians put up a fight. As we know, moral victories are never a thing to celebrate, but you would have walked away impressed with your Indians.

The feeling of this year’s baseball season was reminiscent of the movie "Major League." Although the Indians didn’t win it all for you, Jake Taylor, Willie Mays Hayes, Kenny Lofton or Omar Vizquel, they should stay atop of the pecking order in baseball.

Skipper Terry Francona has the team headed in the right direction, and the Tribe will continue to play in the World Series if they continue to integrate the proper pieces.

I know I’m taking a lot of your time, but I promise, I’ll be done soon. The feeling that Cleveland experienced this year can’t be taken away. Yes, the jokes about blowing a 3-1 lead will annoy Indians fans all summer, but the Cavs' championship adds some ease to what ensued with the Indians.

Championships aren’t a norm in Cuyahoga County, but thanks to James and the Cavs, the 52 years of eternal misery are no more. The Indians have a little more work to do, and of course, the Browns still suck, but for once it's not too bad to be a Cleveland fans these days.

As I mentioned before, you’ve missed a lot of bad, but the good in 2016 is something that I wish you could have witnessed. Once upon a time, sports in Cleveland left fans at a crossroads where they were lonely, yearning for success, but now, it’s changing for the better. For the first time in a long time, it's safe to say Cleveland rocks — well sort of. You get the point.


Ron Hamp

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