Hundreds of thousands of Cavaliers fans are expected in downtown Cleveland today to celebrate the city’s first pro sports championship in 52 years. WKSU’s Amanda Rabinowitz talks to commentator Terry Pluto about what he calls “a once in a generation” story.
Not moving mountains...but close
"My sense was always that whenever a Cleveland team would win a title, something phenomenal would have to happen – the equivalent of mountains would have to move, the earth would have to shake, clouds that were so great would suddenly have to break and here comes the sunshine," Pluto says.
"The equivalent of that is what the Cavs did – down from 3-1. No team’s ever come back from that before. And they did it."
Trust in the general manager
Pluto says one thing he realized as he was watching game 7 was something Cavs General Manager David Griffin told him the night before. “He said, ‘If we just come out, and we don’t get blown out early, we’re going to win.’” Pluto says Griffin knew the team loved the adversity.
And, Pluto believes Griffin is really one of the unsung heroes for the Cavs.
“He wouldn’t say it, but I do not believe they come back to win with David Blatt as coach. They didn’t have the confidence they had in him that they had in Tyronn Lue. Whether it’s fair or not, Blatt was the outsider from Europe. Lue played in the league and had been an assistant in the league. They knew Lue; they didn’t know Blatt. That was Griffin’s decision to put Lue in at mid-season when the Cavs were 30-11. He took the heat."
A champion’s tears
When the game ended, LeBron James went down to his knees on the court in tears. “He reacted as I hoped he would,” Pluto says. “I was hoping that this title [his third] would be the most special he’s ever had. I think going into game 7 even he was a nervous wreck. But he is very good at hiding those emotions and just leading them."
"When I knew they were going to win was with about two minutes to go and Andre Iguodala’s got this wide-open layup. LeBron’s been out there for 45 1/2 minutes. And you could just see the sweat pouring off of him and he came out of nowhere and blocked that shot from behind. Then then Kyrie Irving with :52 to go makes that jump shot over Steph Curry.
We’ve seen nothing but misses and then it’s like, we’re going to get write a story for our generation we never thought we’d get to write.
Setting emotions aside to capture the moment
Pluto says when the game ended, he was happy, but was mostly focused on capturing the moment for the fans in his Plain Dealer column.
“I was just thinking, now my game starts. And a lot of people are going to want to read this and they’re going to save it. And I have to get the moment to them. And I remember I just wrote in black in letters, ‘The Cavaliers win the championship.’ There’s something you never thought you’d see.”
"The interesting thing is how we don’t like newspapers or whatever…all of the sudden, a title is won [and] they can’t print enough papers! Because you can’t hang your iPhone on the wall …suddenly you want the paper. It’s almost like fans want this documentation that it really happened! We want that picture of LeBron crying and hugging the trophy or the picture of Kyrie’s shot or LeBron’s block."
What does this title mean for a beleaguered fan base?
“If you’re very superstitious, it takes away that no Cleveland team could ever win a title. That’s over.
And he says the best part is the camaraderie.
“Everywhere I’ve gone, people want to talk about. They want to tell you where they watched the game and what they felt. I’ve been getting long emails from fans about their first game they went to or just the first time they watched LeBron James play.
"The idea that your team is winning a championship really affects the city in the long run -- no it doesn’t. You still have the problems and the same strengths. But what it does is, it turns a big city into a small town real quick. Everybody is friends with everybody. And I think the fact that it was such a close, intense game adds to whole mythology that’s going to develop around this."
"I just feel so blessed to have been doing this for long and then be one of the voices telling people about it."
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