Can I say, I never frenzied over the game of basketball. Apart from barely knowing a few notable greats from the past and originating from Cleveland, I amass two strikes. If I were bowling, this would be to my advantage. But in more than a 50-year history of national near misses and heartbreaking defeats, a Cleveland sports team managed to pull off the impossible. In the process, the players on this underdog team restored the dignity of a city long defamed of its rich heritage.
Along with the rest of sports fans everywhere, I watched a modern-day David and Goliath story unfold on my flat screen (1 Samuel 17, NIV). Taunted by a 3-1 deficit, the city watched as their beloved Cavaliers went “All In” to face last year’s reigning champions in the seventh-game match up. The labeled “mistake on the lake” transformed into a “miracle on the court” and a greater “miracle on the square.” In the final minutes, on-location cameras in downtown Cleveland panned across socio-economic lines. As the favored “giant” toppled at the game buzzer, a nation witnessed a city rise in unity of spirit and oneness of heart. Shouts of joy rattled the square at Tower City (I grew up knowing it as Terminal Tower). Officers gave pedestrians hugs and high-5s. Cleveland stamped out old labels once, and hopefully, for all.
I figure when you bear the blunt end of stereotypes long enough, you learn to either live under the weight of them or fight hard for redefinition. A team trusted in something more. They believed in something more. They redefined themselves and how to play the game against all odds. They saw themselves as champions despite the deficit. And they rallied their beloved city and challenged them to go “All In.”
Cleveland welcomed their history makers to a homecoming that would rival anything on Times Square. I know it was only a game, but I’m hopeful. Hopeful…
• People will unite.
• Stereotypes will dissolve.
• Justice will reign.
• Truth will triumph.
• Wickedness will collapse.
• Violent acts will dissipate.
• Change will happen.
Against all odds, I believe because I believe God.