On July 11, 2014, Lebron James told the world, “I’m coming home.”
Last night, in spite of his Cavaliers having trailed three games to one in a Finals series, facing a unicorn team that broke the NBA record for regular-season wins and basically every other conceivable probabilistic model stacked against him, Lebron James — Cleveland’s own prodigal son — proved it was worth the wait.
Sports were made for these kinds of moments.
Nothing could be more storybook, especially for Cleveland, a city that hadn’t won a major sports title since 1964, when the Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts for the NFL Championship (the Super Bowl wasn’t even invented yet). Just ask any Cleveland native about Rocky Colavito. Actually, don’t.
But today, Clevelanders (Clevelandians? Clevelandites?) can breathe easy. Misery is over, the curse broken. You’ve become a model for every other perpetual loser across the country.
Who’s next? Let’s take a look at the field.
Major Teams: Bills (NFL), Sabres (NHL), Braves (NBA, relocated)
Years Since Last Major Sports Title: 51
Why the heartache? Who loses four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl? The Bills do.
Outlook? Grim. The Sabres haven’t made the playoffs in five years, and the Bills, despite signs of improvement, are, well, the Bills.
Major Teams: Chargers (NFL), Padres (MLB), Clippers (NBA, relocated), Rockets (NBA, relocated)
Years Since Last Major Sports Title: 53
Why the heartache? Because they have a sports history that’s been defined more by teams skipping town than anything else. The Rockets moved to Houston in in 1971. The Clippers moved to L.A. 1984. The Chargers could be next.
Outlook? Poor. Beyond the fact they could be decamping San Diego soon, the Chargers are in full rebuild mode after a decade of competency, and the Padres are currently sitting in the cellar of the NL West.
Major Teams: Bucks (NBA), Brewers (MLB)
Years Since Last Major Sports Title: 45
Why the heartache? Because unfortunately, the Green Bay Packers aren’t the Milwaukee Packers.
Outlook? Not good. The Brewers have been to the playoffs just twice since losing the World Series in ‘82, while the Bucks were one of the biggest busts in the NBA this season, missing the playoffs despite a wellspring of young talent.
Major Teams: Vikings (NFL), Timberwolves (NBA), Twins (MLB), Wild (NHL), North Stars (NHL, relocated)
Years Since Last Major Sports Title: 25
Why the heartache? The Twins won the World Series in ‘87 and ‘91, but haven’t been back since. Kevin Garnett staged his own “I’m coming home” in 2015 … at the age of 39. And as for the Vikings, not even Brett Favre could save ‘em.
Outlook: Fair to middling. The Vikings had a heroic season last year, usurping Green Bay’s stranglehold on the NFC North title before missing that kick. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, are perhaps the most promising young team in the NBA, although they’re probably 2-3 years away from being serious contenders.
Major Teams: Bengals (NFL), Reds (MLB)
Years Since Last Major Sports Title: 26
Why the heartache? Most recently, this. What’s going on in the Rust Belt that’s making its cities sports cursed?
Outlook? Now or never. The Bengals, reigning NFL laughing stock for most of the ‘90s and ‘00s, are really good at the moment, and could be the next city out of the doghouse — assuming they can figure out how not to shoot themselves in the foot at every critical juncture.
Image via Jim Rogash/Getty Images