Greetings From Believeland
Peter K. Kaiser, MD
“[Lebron] just led an underdog from a city that always loses back from a deficit that had been a death sentence.”
— Zach Lowe, ESPN
The cathartic, collective, primal scream of an entire region that was unleashed when the final seconds of game 7 in this year’s NBA Finals ticked down to zero was deafening. In a second, 52 years of futility, devastation, and heartbreak were over. The title curse was vanquished, and everyone everywhere around Cleveland had a weight lifted — on Father’s Day no less. We were NBA Champions for the first time in the franchise’s 46-year history. “Cleveland ... this is for you!” yelled the MVP.
This was not supposed to happen. Golden State was the best team in history; they were up 3-1 (a deficit never before surpassed in Finals history) at home, where the Warriors had not lost two in a row all year, and they had not lost three straight games since 2013.
We fans have lived through so many disappointments and close calls in sports that we have named them: The Shot, The Drive, The Fumble, The Decision. These things “only happen in Cleveland.” We knew the same was going to happen again.
In 2003, we had a 22.5% chance of getting the #1 draft pick. The balls fell our way, and we could select the hometown favorite, Lebron James. We witnessed his rise to greatness having grown up in Akron only 37 miles south of Cleveland. Many still wear his high school jersey. He was one of us: hard-working, blue-collar, Midwest people.
And then, like so many times before, Cleveland was pierced through the heart when he uttered those words on national TV: “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.” Outside of Cleveland, the move made absolute sense. We watched, shaking our heads, as he won NBA titles in another city.
But improbably, on July 11, 2014, Lebron said, “I’m coming home.” Could we really hope? We believed in him, and the city was #Allin216.
I watched the game with a sold-out crowd of 20,000-plus in our arena. I cried with my kids as the stadium erupted. The city was complete bedlam: horns honking; intersections gridlocked; highways closed.
There was dancing in the streets. Fans young and old were hugging and high-fiving each other. I am sure other cities have done this when they have won championships. In my lifetime, it had never happened in the Land.
What does this have to do with this month’s issue of Retinal Physician? Absolutely nothing. I am sure my Bay Area colleagues have a different view of these Finals. Golden State is a champion and the undisputed best regular season team in history.
But, for one night, I got to forget about retina and celebrate with thousands a win for the ages. This one was for the Land!