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Cleveland Cavaliers' Alonzo Gee dunks the ball in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Minnesota Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic (14), from Montenegro, and Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson (13) battle for a rebound during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Minnesota Timberwolves' Alexey Shved (1), from Russia, drives past Cleveland Cavalier's Marreese Speights (15) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson, right, shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves' Derrick Williams (7) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
What started off as fantasy has become reality. The black-and-white images of a city swarming LeBron James in a heartwarming Nike ad upon his return to Cleveland came true at the city’s historic parade, when 1 million fans flooded the streets to swallow James and the Cavaliers in delight.
The Cavs’ NBA championship wasn’t just the first in the team’s 45-year history; it absolved a city and fan base of a lifetime of sports devastation. The broken road to get here took too many detours to count, but it ended with James pounding the court in disbelief, tears in his eyes and joy in his heart.
“Just knowing what our city has been through, Northeast Ohio has been through as far as our sports and everything for the last 50 years,” James said. “Our fans, they ride or die, no matter what’s been going on. They continue to support us. For us to be able to end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them.”