When the Mavericks finally toppled the Heat in Game 6 and captured their first NBA championship on Sunday night in Miami, they had more than just the six million residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area pulling for them. In fact, it was pretty much the whole world.
No one, from L.A. to Boston to Würzburg, Germany, wanted to see Miami finish the job. Fans everywhere, casual and diehard alike, were openly applauding the failure of the celebs from South Beach.
Perhaps nowhere cheered louder than in Cleveland, a spurned sports town full of fans who still haven't gotten over the pain of what happened to them last summer. And that's a little sad.
Fans in back in LeBron James' native Ohio congregated in the sports bars around his old stomping ground, Quicken Loans Arena, just as they did on July 8, 2010, to watch his much-anticipated "Decision." Only this time, they gathered around the television not out of anticipation and hope, but purely spite.
The fans in Cleveland laughed, they celebrated, and they cracked jokes about King James' performance on the game's biggest stage. "Ask LeBron for change for a dollar, and he'll only give you 75 cents," they'd tell you. "He doesn't have a fourth quarter."
It's funny, but at the same time it's a little depressing. This is all Cleveland has. There once was promise, and now only schadenfreude remains. They've given up on rooting for their own teams. All they have left is the chance to smear the people who wronged them.
It's been a decade and a half since Art Modell picked up and moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore.
It's been two years since CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee rattled off back-to-back Cy Youngs and then both abandoned the Indians.
It's been 11 months since LeBron dropped the bomb and took his talents elsewhere.
Not since 1964, when the Browns won an NFL championship in the pre-Super Bowl era, has Cleveland celebrated a title in any major sport. The Tribe's drought is even longer. The Cavs, obviously, have never won a thing.
They're not taking it well. Owner Dan Gilbert fired away another vengeful tweet against LeBron on Sunday night, punctuating his Mavs congrats with a reminder that "There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE." This coming from a man whose shortcut into sports was buying the Cavs two years after LeBron landed in their laps.
Gilbert said his Cavs would win a title before LeBron's Heat. Even though the Heat have yet to prove him wrong, that declaration still looks pretty stupid from here. The Cavs lost 63 games last season and won the draft lottery, and the Heat still have three future Hall of Fame players (yes, even Chris Bosh) in their primes.
The Cavs are hopeless. Their roster is threadbare and their No. 1 pick, the first they've had since LeBron in 2003, is sadly coming in a weak draft with no sure things. They've got no chance of winning a thing; all they've got is the knowledge that somewhere, whether he's down in South Beach or vacationing in the Bahamas, there's an old flame feeling the same pain they are.
Everyone's losing this fight.