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MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER


Cleveland's 52-year heartache is over.

The Cavaliers won its first NBA championship in franchise history with a 93-89 victory Sunday against the Golden State Warriors. The win ended Cleveland's more than five-decades-long drought on winning a major sports championship.

Also worth noting, no team in NBA Finals history had come back to win a championship after falling in a 3-1 deficit. No team, that is, until the Cavaliers did it Sunday, beating a team that set an NBA record having 73 wins and nine losses in 82 regular season games.

Seeing Cleveland fans celebrate the win reminded me of how I felt in 1995 following the Atlanta Braves 1-0 victory against the Cleveland Indians. As a Braves fan, I tend to argue, "Look at how many division titles we won." And that same old reply comes back with, 'How many World Series have they won?' (The answer, by the way, is one) The Braves set a standard for winning, earning 14 straight division titles from 1991 to 2005, but they could never win the big game. Thank goodness for 1995.

LeBron James said it best in one of his many postgame interviews when he mentioned how sports fans tend to have this mentality of, what have you done for me lately? (Que Janet Jackson.) In this age of instant access, sports fans expect instantaneous results. They demand excellence, expect perfection, and then when it doesn't happen from their team, they are heartbroken. Some people live and breathe allegiance to their respective team, and it is only after their team wins a championship can they reach peace and understanding.

That's been my experience.

Some of that anticipation subsided in October 1995. More anxiety ebbed in 2010 and 2011, when the University of South Carolina baseball team won back-to-back College World Series titles. Now if only the Gamecock's football team could win a national championship -- heck, I'd settle for a Southeastern Conference title -- though that might be a ways off.

As a Carolina Panthers fan, I'm still waiting for the day when the silver, black and blue host the Vince Lombardi trophy. That desire has twice been met with heartbreak. The Panthers had the best chance in 2004, when Adam Vinatieri nailed a 41-yard field goal with nine seconds to play and giving the Patriots a 32-29 Super Bowl win. Last year saw more disappointment. Carolina had its best season in franchise history, but had a poor showing in the year's biggest game.

I shouldn't complain. I've seen it before. But as a fan, you put so much effort, time, energy and passion into something that when it looks like it'll turn your way and doesn't, it's hard not to feel that disappointment. Besides, it's Minneapolis-St. Paul's turn to worry about capturing a title, at least according to columnist Michael Rand, who argues that only those U.S. markets with at least three pro teams spread among the NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL should qualify for the drought designation.

But seriously, who's next? The Chicago Cubs? The Jacksonville Jaguars? The Vancouver Canucks?

Perhaps next season will find the answer.

Michael Christopher is sports editor for the Index-Journal. He can be reached at 864-223-1813; email mchristopher@indexjournal.com, or follow him on Twitter at IJMCHRISTOPHER. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.