I have lived in Southeast Michigan for almost 20 years. Sports championships have fallen from the sky like leaves off the trees in the fall. The Red Wings have won 4 Stanley Cups since I moved here. The Pistons took home the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2004 and I was right there for it. Michigan football won a National Championship (not “co” please) in 1997 and Tom Izzo and Michigan State had their one shining moment in 2000. Detroiters have even seen a couple of World Series appearances from their Tigers and the Lions, well, never mind. My point is that there has been a ton of sports success stories here. In my hometown of Cleveland? Heartache after heartache.
Times have changed though in Northeast Ohio. The Cavaliers just won the NBA championship and for the first time in 52 years, my hometown is celebrating a championship. Cleveland is no longer a punchline and the residents are having so much fun with it! All of the celebrations have been controlled and well-behaved and there is a giant exhale of relief going on all over the city. It is really cool. But how should Detroiters feel about that?
In Detroit, most of you do not like Cleveland. Remember the mid to late 90s when the Indians used to destroy the Tigers? Jim Thome with bomb after bomb at Tiger Stadium and later on Comerica Park. What about 2007? Boobie Gibson sent the Pistons home after LeBron’s 48 point game at the Palace two days earlier. Pistons fans who made the trip to Quicken Loans Arena all told me that they were sick to their stomach after those two games. “Cavs fans were jerks to us” is all I heard for months after that. The Tigers and Indians are rivals and yes, the Pistons and Cavaliers are too. So I have no issue with Detroiters not exactly jumping for joy for Cleveland. Isn’t this what sports are supposed to be about? A dislike for the competition, especially the competition a mere three hours away in the same MLB and NBA division? Michigan fans should NEVER be happy for Ohio State fans, right? Right.
This is certainly a tough call for Detroit sports fans. Should they be happy for Cleveland? #TheLand has suffered long enough! I’m right here in the middle. A Cleveland native who lives and dies with my Indians, I don’t root for the Tigers and I never will. I’ve been to games and heard Detroit fans tell Clevelanders that they will never win anything. It had been since 1964, they had a point! I know some Quicken Loans slappies who have converted due to Dan Gilbert’s ownership of the Cavaliers. Furthermore, I’ve become a Pistons fan due to the relationships that I’ve cultivated over the years with many members of the organization both past and present. I don’t feel like a sellout at all. I think in the NBA there are too many players that hug and high five their friends on other teams. The rivalries are not what they used to be and it is a turn off for me at times. The Cavs just won it all, and if you are a Pistons fan who can tip your cap to LeBron and Cleveland, I am okay with that. If not? I get it.