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National & International News

PHOTOS: Cleveland Rejoices After First Major Sports Title In A Half-Century

Fans react to a play during the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals Game Seven watch party at Quicken Loans Arena on June 19.
Fans react to a play during the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals Game Seven watch party at Quicken Loans Arena on June 19.

The curse was over.

On Sunday Night, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors and took home the NBA championship.

Cleveland Cavaliers fans celebrate in the street after the Cavs defeated the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championship.
Angelo Merendino / Getty Images
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Cleveland Cavaliers fans celebrate in the street after the Cavs defeated the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championship.

It was the Cavs' first-ever NBA title.

It fulfilled a promise LeBron James made two years ago, when he returned to his hometown and swore he'd win them a championship.

Cleveland fan Brian Wilson says a prayer during the final seconds of the game at the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals Game Seven watch party at Quicken Loans Arena.
Jason Miller / Getty Images
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Cleveland fan Brian Wilson says a prayer during the final seconds of the game at the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals Game Seven watch party at Quicken Loans Arena.

And for the city, it was the first major title — in any professional sport — for more than 50 years, since the Browns won the NFL championship in 1964.

Every championship victory is celebrated. But this one was special for Cleveland, which has suffered near miss after near miss for the last five decades.

Fans rejoice in the street after the Cavs won, bringing Cleveland its first major championship title in more than 50 years.
Angelo Merendino / Getty Images
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Fans rejoice in the street after the Cavs won, bringing Cleveland its first major championship title in more than 50 years.

The Associated Press, reporting from a watch party at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, said that after the game fans poured onto the street "for a party that could last for days."

"A few climbed aboard a fire truck and a bus and up trees and light poles. Police reported a few arrests and a car with its windshield smashed, but there were no major problems, just unbridled happiness — 52 years of frustration released in one cathartic crescendo."

Fans celebrate during the final second of the game.
Jason Miller / Getty Images
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Fans celebrate during the final second of the game.

James said the city's sports fans are legendary in their loyalty, and earned this moment.

"Our fans, they ride or die, no matter what's been going on, no matter the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs, and all other sports teams," James said, the AP reports. "They continue to support us. And for us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them.

"It's going to be the biggest party Cleveland has ever seen."

Cleveland Cavaliers fans celebrate after the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the NBA basketball finals.
Tony Dejak / AP
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Cleveland Cavaliers fans celebrate after the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the NBA basketball finals.

NPR's Renita Jablonski, a senior editor for All Things Consideredwho grew up in the Cleveland suburbs, writes for the Two-Way that she'll remember this day for the rest of her life.

"I'm from Cleveland," she says. "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."

Cavs fans celebrate Cleveland's first major sports title in 52 years.
Angelo Merendino / Getty Images
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Cavs fans celebrate Cleveland's first major sports title in 52 years.

In sports, she writes, "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 is both."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.