KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Cleveland has won its first major sports championship since 1964. The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors 93 to 89 yesterday in the NBA Finals. For Renita Jablonski, our editor here at ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, that day - June 19, 2016 - is one she you will never forget.
RENITA JABLONSKI, BYLINE: It was Father's Day, the last class of my daughters' first swim lessons, the day history changed forever, especially for those of us from Cleveland. I'll remember that day because it came right after I dropped my iPhone in a toilet at Cabin John Park. And then as I waited for some sign of digital life, I thought if my phone worked again, it would be a miracle and a good omen for the Cavs game that night. It worked.
I'll remember talking with my dad on a morning FaceTime session from Seven Hills, Ohio, looking better than he has in the week, frail but smiling. I'll remember that it was exactly a week ago that I was frantically sending messages and making calls to help arrange NPR's coverage in Orlando where 49 people had been massacred and that it was exactly two weeks after I learned that my colleague David Gilkey and NPR's interpreter had been killed in Afghanistan. I learned that while sitting in an IKEA parking lot in College Park, Md. My husband and I signed our just-tall-enough toddler into the IKEA play area, and then I sat down on a bench and wept.
I'll remember this day, coming on the heels of some of the crummiest two weeks I and so many others had had in a while and how throughout I looked forward to having the outlet of cheering on my home team. I looked forward to seeing that familiar Cleveland skyline on national television, the Terminal Tower glowing and listening to Cavaliers fans keep the Quicken Loans Arena absolutely electrified. I'll feel my husband holding my hand while we watch the last few minutes of every finals game with him saying some version of it could happen, sweetie.
I would think the same, but I wouldn't say it out loud. People from Cleveland know not to get ahead of themselves. We know what it's like to lose. We know what it's like to be mocked. Those things never stop us, though. We're just better equipped to ride the ups and downs than most other fans. June 19, 2016 epitomizes the beauty of sports, their power to unite, distract and inspire. There's always a winner, and there's always a home team to crawl back to and love despite everything. For the first time in my lifetime, Cleveland's both. I needed it, so did an entire city and beyond.
MCEVERS: Renita Jablonski is senior editor of the show.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLEVELAND ROCKS")
THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: (Singing) Three, four...
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