06/25/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
So it has reared it's ugly head again. Yes, the "Curse of Cleveland" remains. And following Golden State's NBA title win over the Cavaliers, 1964 remains the last year a professional sports team in Cleveland, Ohio won a championship.
So with the Cavs having never won a championship and now being 0 for 2 in Finals appearances, the Indians having not won a World Series since 1948, and the Browns being the city's latest champion 51 years ago, which Cleveland franchise is cursed the worst?
Let's start with the Cavaliers resume of cursedness. They joined the NBA in 1970. Had 3 winning seasons out of their first 16. Didn't make it to an NBA Final until 2007, where they were swept by San Antonio. They drafted LeBron James in 2003, then lost him when he made "The Decision" to play for Miami following the 2009/2010 season. Of course"The King" came back to Cleveland this season, and the Cavaliers won the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately along the way to the Finals, they also lost Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to injuries (or the Curse?) along the way. So the Cavs minus 2 of their best players, equaled losing to Golden State in 6 games. But the most heartbreaking loss in franchise history still remains "The Shot". In the 1989 NBA playoffs, the Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls met in the 1st round. With the series tied at two games each, Cleveland's Craig Ehlo hit what looked to be the game winning basket with :03 seconds left in the game. But, Michael Jordan would come back with "The Shot" as time expired, and the Bulls would win 101 to 100. Cleveland and Chicago met in the NBA playoffs 5 times between 1988 and 1994...with Chicago winning every matchup. Was it the Bulls? Or was it the Curse?
Now to the Indians. 67 years ago, the Indians last won the World Series. They've made it back to the Fall Classic 3 times since. Losing in 1954, then "waiting" 41 years before making it back and losing to Atlanta in 1995. In 2007, the Tribe led Boston 3 games to 1 in the ALCS. Then blew it as the Red Sox won the last 3 games in the series and went on to win the World Series. But that's not the most painful of the Indians failures. No, for Cleveland fans, it's 1997 that hurts the worst. The Indians were 2 outs away from winning the World Series, leading Florida 2 to 1 in the 9th inning with closer Jose Mesa on the mound. But Mesa blew the save, the game went to extra innings, and Marlins won the Word Series.
And when talking about a curse in professional football, the first franchise that comes to most sports fans minds is the Cleveland Browns. "Red Right 88", "The Drive", and "The Fumble"...all 3 are famous playoff failures by the Browns. In the 1981 AFC playoffs, the Browns trailed Oakland by 2 points with less than a minute left in the game. The Browns had driven to the Raiders 14 yard line with :56 seconds left in the game. All it took was a field goal to win it. That's when QB Brian Sipe threw a pass that was intended for Ozzie Newsome in the end zone. It was intercepted. The Raiders won 14 to 12. And the cursed play became known as "Red Right 88".
In 1987, the Browns led the AFC Championship game 20 to 13 with 5 minutes left in the game. Denver had the ball on their own 2 yard line. Then John Elway led the Broncos 98 yards to the game tying score, and Denver would go on to win in overtime. That game tying effort by Elway and the Broncos is what's known as "The Drive". The Browns and Broncos met again in the AFC title game the following season. But this time, it was Cleveland who trailed by a touchdown late in the game. The Browns drove to the Broncos 2 yard line, when RB Earnest Byner was stripped of the ball. The Broncos recovered and went on to win the game, and the play remains infamously known as "The Fumble". And of course there was that time when the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996. With so many choices, which one hurts the most Browns fans?
And Cleveland curse even extends to the NHL. After the Oakland Seals relocated in 1976, There was a professional hockey team in Cleveland. For two seasons. And then the Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars and were gone in 1978.
Well Cleveland sports fans, you keep your heads up there. Because remember, there's always next season. Just like there has been since 1964.
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