Everyone has something that inspires them in some way, shape, or form. If there is something we do constantly and faithfully, there is usually a reason for why we continue to do it. Like that author that ends up eventually writing an astounding piece of literature after that seemingly lifetime writers block. What sparked into that persons head to get him/ her over that hump? What is it that tweaks us and eventually helps us look at the Brightside? Inspiration is a complex mechanism that can make its mark in a variety of ways.
I am a die-hard Cleveland Cavaliers fan as well as a basketball player. I have understood the concepts and everything else about this game for as long as I can remember. Like 90% of lil’ African- American basketball dreamers I deeply idolized Number 23 on the Chicago Bulls. Yep, that would be Michael Jordan. Of course I am a Cavs fan first, for my family is full of Cleveland Cavs followers. Anyway, we had a pretty elite franchise in Cleveland in the late ‘80s as well as the early ‘90s. With Mark Price leading the way as commander-in-chief alongside Creig Ehlo and defensive stopper Ron Harper, we were always contenders in the Eastern Conference. But we always had issues battling Jordan and his six-time champion bulls. As Cleveland fans we were still faithful though. No confidence was shattered in our team. That is, until the 1989 Eastern Conference Finals.
I wasn’t born when this series went down, but my family kept bringing it up constantly every time Michael was on TV. Cleveland turned into a city with a playoff team. I unfortunately missed out on the good years. Looking back I’m pissed I was born just a year after one of the best season endings in NBA history!!! My dad would always tell me ”When you get to the NBA, you better get drafted to the Cavs and bring them back to life”. I always wanted to know what the hell it was that pissed off my family and many Cavalier lovers so much. My grandpa had the entire series on tape. So I watched them. The first two games were pretty uneventful but went back and forth game wise ending up 2-2. Knowing this, whatever happened in the decisive fifth game had to be what has been triggering the feelings everyone had been feeling. This was a doozy!
Cleveland had everything going for them from the tip-off. Generating an early 12-point lead definitely indicated the team’s determination to defeat these Bulls. “Ok..ok. I see where we’re goin with this”. The home court advantage being theirs also had a motivating effect. I honestly do not think I’ve seen a more electric crowd in Cleveland. At times, the people were drowning out the commentators doing the game! There was absolutely no sound coming from them as far as I was concerned. At least nothing but screams and shouts! Needless to say I’m liking the way things are going. Especially after back to back defensive stops on the Cavs end were converted into points.
We had answers for him defensively for about the first quarter and a half, but soon Jordan decided he was going to start playing his game. Ron Harper was getting lit up by a variety of different moves, as opposed to the previous one-on-one sequences. Triple-threat one dribble pull-up to the right for three? Yes. How about splitting a double team and taking it straight up with the other teams big man with no other intention but to dunk on him? Yes. These are just a couple of the seemingly impossible things this man did on my Cavs. When the third quarter was all said and done, Cleveland was still up, but there was clearly a shift in momentum and it was in the most dangerous person’s hands.
Fourth Quarter…Larry Nance makes a couple plays and Price is still playing like one of the best point guards in the league. They go up 9 points with 7 minutes left. Jordan shatters this with help from his team by generating three critical defensive stops attributing to followed baskets by Michael. Two of which include fouls with made free throws to add. From this point on it’s a back and forth game. I’m totally in sync with the crowd emotionally. We'd made a play, I’d hop like a jackrabbit. But when that No. 23 jersey went up on the other side of the court and finished something that everyone (even his teammates) knew should have went in, I was, just like the crowd, damn near about to pull my hair out. Rarely did the point differential go higher than 1.
About a minute and a half left the score is 96-95 Cleveland. This is a recorded game that had already happened, yet I was so into it I may as well have been there! My hands were all sweaty from gripping them for so long. By then I’d already smashed countless glasses and plates. Every time Mike made a free throw, it was another piece of china dropped or some article of furniture.
After baskets from both teams, Jordan hits an open jumper from 19-feet to make it 99-98. 20 seconds and counting Crieg Ehlo runs down the court, gets by a defender with help from a pick from a teammate to get to the basket for an open lay-up!! YEEEEESS!!! 100-99 “LEEEEEET’s GOOOOOOO!!!” I yell to the point where my mom had to come downstairs to make sure I was ok. Chicago calls time-out and MJ is still on the court which after my estatic celabration made me instantly panic. I completely forgot that I knew the result of the game this entire time and get my feelings hurt when he SOMEHOW gets open, gets the ball from the inbound, and with Ehlo damn near his face knocks down the 18 footer for the win!!!!! 101-100. “NOOOOOOO!!” I don’t have a record of how many things I broke, but lets just say I was grounded for a very LONG time.
That game pissed me off to the point where I was about to have the same outlook as my father. But then something happened. I have no clue where it came from. I felt this rush of thrill and excitement from this game I had just seen. I immediately think to myself “this is what its all about”. The entertainment. The excitement. Obviously I was still pissed about the broken hearts of my Cavs, but I realized that we all need to cherish those moments where we can get our adrenaline running simply from watching a series of events. To this day I value that feeling that we as fans can easily get. Oh and as far as the Cavs getting their mojo back? LeBron James is taking care of that.