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Championship-Starved Fans Welcome Cleveland Cavaliers Home

Cavs return home with championship
KEVIN NIEDERMIER
/
WKSU

Cleveland sports fans welcomed home the NBA champion Cavaliers today. The team’s plane landed at Cleveland Hopkins Airport and parked nearby with the Larry O’Brien Trophy on board after yesterday’s historic Game 7 win over the Golden State Warriors. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier has more on the city of Cleveland’s first major sports championship in 52 years.  

About 10,000 fans jammed the parking lot to see the Cavs triumphant return. Jennifer Trask of Fairview Park was part of the championship-starved crowd.

Crowd at Cavs homecoming celebration
Credit KEVIN NIEDERMIER / WKSU
Thousands of Cavs fans waiting the team to arrive.

“This is awesome; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime." she said. Then she checked herself: "I hope it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime, but it could be. It’s amazing.”

The team members waved as they got off the plane, but headed home to get some rest without speaking to the crowd. They will be honored Wednesday with a victory parade in Cleveland.

More from NPR on the Cavs triumphant return:

The Return Of The King: LeBron Brings NBA Trophy Home To Cleveland

By CHRIS ARNOLD

 
Surrounded by his teammates just a few steps off the airplane, LeBron James hoisted the NBA championship trophy and bellowed out a happy roar to a crowd of 20,000 screaming fans. J.R. Smith appeared to have lost his shirt somewhere during Sunday night's celebrations. Kevin Love was sporting a giant professional wrestling belt. And the party in Cleveland is just getting started.

It has been 52 years since Cleveland won a major sports title. And that was enough to get a veteran Cleveland sportscaster celebrating like a member of the team.Cleveland.com reports:Austin Carr, the Cavs TV broadcaster and former player in the 1970s, said he was still stunned at the Cavs, who are the first team in history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a championship. 

"'I still can't believe it,' he said after riling up the crowd before the Cavs arrived. 'I haven't slept. I feel like I've been walking on air for 20 hours.'"

There's a parade planned for Wednesday in the city. But with the triumphant return of James and the Cavs, Cleveland.com talked to a lot of people who couldn't wait until then to spill out into the streets and then to the airport to greet their team.

"Nick Toler and Cassandra Wheeler of Macedonia said they partied downtown, stopped at Denny's and got to the airport about 5 a.m.

"'I never realized the city could come alive like that,' Wheeler said.

"'We had to come down here,' Toler said. 'It's never happened before. We don't know if it will ever happen again. It's worth missing a day's sleep for this.' "

After coming down off the airplane stairway, James walked the golden trophy past the crowd so people could snap photos of it.


It seems though that the trip home from California to Cleveland was too long a flight for the Cavs to make without a pit stop. The team's plane landed in Las Vegas around 2 a.m. PT for some dancing and partying at a casino nightclub. But now that the Cavs are home, it's a safe bet that many fans won't be getting quite enough sleep for at least another day. City officials say they'll soon be announcing more details about the parade.