It’s tough being a Cleveland Cavaliers fan.
If LeBron James decides to drink a few glasses of moscato in his driveway, gets sick, and Kyrie Irving doesn’t get a triple double in his absence, then we’re trash. Kevin Love is injured. Iman Shumpert may be on the chopping block. J.R. Smith apparently doesn’t really drink Henny. And I’m constantly confronted with sports fans who think our championship win was undeserved.
It’s true that Steph Curry, Andre Igoudala and Andrew Bogut were all injured during last June's Finals, and for some reason, Draymond Green could not stop kicking players in the balls. But let’s not forget Love and Irving were injured during the 2015 Finals. No one doubts the Golden State Warriors or their greatness; so why doubt Cleveland's?
It may be because we didn’t win 73 games last regular season, or because we had a dramatic head coach change mid-season. There is a lot of pressure on us to perform well this season just to prove we are even the best in the East. But what makes the pressure worse is the fact that many think we only won in 2016 because of luck.
Don’t get me wrong, we definitely got lucky. Luck is a crucial element in the success of, well, anybody. A fascinating combination of skill and luck took us to the top in 2016. But we also won because we’re the best. We won because in 2016, we were better than the Warriors. I’ve never seen so many disrespectful blocks in my life. LeBron and Kyrie put up an incredible 82 combined points in Game 5. Irving is the clutch player you wish your team had. Tristan Thompson is tall. And did you see Love lock Curry down in the final minute of Game 7? The problem is that people don’t seem to believe we can do it twice. Which ultimately means that winning the championship once isn’t enough.
Why is that?
This is where it gets emotional for me. Not being enough is a common refrain to any native Clevelander. I grew up hearing that my geography was literally a mistake. Any visit out of town and we’d undoubtedly find someone who knew our city nickname, the “Mistake by the Lake”. But out in beautiful, sunny California, nothing is a mistake. Of course they’re winners—they come from a great city. But Cleveland? There's gotta be a catch.
There’s no catch. Did we make the right trade moves in 2016? Yes. Did Tyronn Lue fix team morale issues and add stability? Yes. Did the health of our players make a difference? Yes. Did the magnetic attraction between Draymond’s shoe and opposing players’ dicks alter the course of NBA history? Who knows.
What I do know is that we are primed for another championship run, and I think we will win. But instead of a fun repeat, it feels like we have to win another title in order to solidify our greatness.
And that’s what makes it tough to be a Cavs fan.
Beverly Gooden is an award-winning social activist, speaker, and originator of the Twitter movement, #WhyIStayed. Her on-air appearances include Good Morning America, the Dr. Phil show, Inside Edition, CNN, NPR, and NBC Nightly News.