Jun 20, 2016

    Cavaliers can be in 7th heaven and end drought


    LONG-SUFFERING Cleveland fans, who have not cheered a major sports champion since 1964, are on the brink of seeing the drought end thanks to the LeBron James-led NBA Cavaliers.

    Trying to fulfil the dream that brought him back to Cleveland from Miami Heat two years ago, he will power the Cavs into a Game 7 Finals showdown (this morning, Singapore time) against defending champions Golden State Warriors.

    James was drafted by the Cavaliers and led them to the 2007 finals, where they were swept by San Antonio.

    In 2010, he left for the Heat, winning two titles and making four finals before returning in 2014 vowing to make the Cavaliers a title team. "I came back for a reason, and that is to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland," he said. "That has been one of my goals."

    He scored 41 points in consecutive games to spark Cleveland triumphs and pull the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series into a seventh game.

    It was only the third time a team down 3-1 have gone the distance and no such team have ever claimed the crown.

    "To be in Cleveland, even when we were down 3-1, it was eerie how optimistic they were," said Cavs player Richard Jefferson.

    "It was the messages - 'We believe in you guys, keep going, we're just so proud of you'. It's very encouraging to be part of that."

    Said James, a former prep star in nearby Akron: "I'm fortunate to be in a position where I can be a part of something that's very special. If we take care of business, that's something that our city hasn't had in a very long time."

    The 52-year wait, the longest ongoing drought among US cities for a champion, has the Great Lakes metropolis yearning for a breakthrough.

    "I love our fans," Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving said. "I know they are diehard in terms of the years, the amount of time that has gone by for Cleveland, not delivering a championship."

    Said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue: "This is what we're playing for. They are really into their sports.

    "This will be very important and very big for the city of Cleveland and for the state of Ohio to bring this home."