CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Just shortly before 9 a.m. Monday morning the parking lots around the IX Center were opened and minutes later a sea of wine, gold and blue began to fill the northern lot to welcome home the NBA Champion Cavs.
They were ready to continue a celebration that went into the wee hours of the morning and to confirm that they weren’t dreaming.
Just before 1 in the afternoon the plane that carried the 2016 NBA Champs from their team celebration in Las Vegas back to Cleveland touched down at Hopkins Airport and taxied it’s way under streams of water from the Cleveland Fire Department, who gave them the traditional water cannon salute, before the stairs were moved into place so the team could show off their new hardware.
Players, coaches and front office personnel emerged from the plane with their phones out.
Even they wanted to record their historic welcome back to a city that saw 52-years worth of sports demons exercised Sunday night as Queen’s “We are the Champions” played on loop.
Kevin Love had a wrestling belt over his shoulder, J.R. Smith was shirtless, Kyrie Irving was all smiles as he pointed to the sky. And there was LeBron James, The Finals unanimous MVP who fulfilled his promise to bring a championship back to Cleveland. He wore a blue Ultimate Warrior shirt and hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy above his head while yelling, “This one’s for you, Cleveland.”
As thousands of fans cheered, chanted and sang, James approached the fence that separated the team from the crowd to give them their first look at the glistening gold trophy.
The Cavs became the first team in NBA history to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals following a thrilling 93-89 victory in Game 7 while dethroning the defending champion Warriors who rolled off an NBA-record 73 wins in the regular season.
Monday’s welcome was just a teaser for the party that is to come Wednesday.
City and Cavs officials are finalizing details of the celebration that generations have waited over half a century for fans could potentially draw a million to downtown Cleveland – a championship parade.