Cleveland fans’ hunger easily outweighs anger

Published 11:03 pm Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cleveland fans are starving as in “you can count my ribs” starving.

The Cleveland Indians last won a World Series in 1948. They have been to the World Series five times. They had a World Series drought from 1954 to 1995 and then returned in 1997 but with no title.

The Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship in 1964. They have been to the playoffs 18 times since then with four conference titles, but no Super Bowl appearances and their last playoff trip was in 2002.

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And then there are the Cleveland Cavaliers. Founded in 1970, the Cavaliers have won three division titles, one conference title and were NBA runners-up in 2007 when they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

No NBA championships. Not even with LeBron James.

When James left after the 2010 season and announced on ESPN that he was taking his talents to Miami, Cleveland fans reacted.

Boy, did they react.

They burned James’ jerseys, painted graffiti that would make a sailor blush, and even owner Dan Gilbert wrote a scorching letter on the team’s website condemning James.

Traitor. Villain. That (fill in the blank) so-and-so.

When James became a free agent a few weeks ago, speculation was running rampant that James was seriously considering a return to Cleveland. There were plenty of skeptics and with good reason when you considered the events surrounding his departure.

But James announced Friday he was indeed coming back to Cleveland and the fans went berserk, only it was in a good way.

When it comes to winning, fans can be very forgiving, especially in Ohio.

Florida — coached by Urban Meyer — crushed Ohio State 41-14 in the BCS championship game in 2007. Despite being an Ohio native and former Ohio State assistant, fans still cursed Meyer.

But the jeers turned to cheers when Meyer was hired as the Buckeyes’ head coach in 2012.

As Bob Uecker would say, “Fans. I love ‘em.”

James will join Kyrie Irving and rookie Andrew Wiggins to lay the foundation of what could be a championship team.

Talk of trading Wiggins for Kevin Love has been circulating, but that doesn’t make sense. James knows the Cavs won’t win a title this year and Love will be a free agent after next season. So, keep Wiggins and go after Love in the free agent market.

If you can wait this long, what’s one more year?

Regardless of what happens, with James playing for the Cavs and Johnny Manziel vying for the Browns’ quarterback job, optimism is running high in Cleveland. If they don’t win any championships, the sports writers will certainly have plenty of subject matter to wet the fans’ appetite.


Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.