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Cleveland finally catches a break

May 24, 2009
By ED PUSKAS Tribune Chronicle Sports Editor

THERE is a list I keep in my head. It's an accounting of where I was for each of Cleveland's sports debacles.

Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, Jose Mesa, the 1999 ALDS, the 2007 ALCS.

If you're a Cleveland sports fan, chances are you can close your eyes and take yourself back to assorted dates in the 1980s, 1990s or just two years ago and re-live the misery.

And if you can't, there is always technology. I know a guy who used to close all the curtains in his house, turn off all the lights and watch VHS tapes of the The Drive and The Fumble for kicks.

I've never quite been that bad.

I have no desire to watch John Elway pick apart Marty Schottenheimer's prevent defense or argue the merits of the field goal Rich Karlis supposedly kicked in overtime.

You can watch Earnest Byner slice through the Broncos' defense all you want. Jeremiah Castille always strips the ball just before Byner gets to the end zone.

Michael Jordan always hangs in the air just long enough to let Craig Ehlo fly by, then shoots down the Cavaliers.

Mesa always shakes off Sandy Alomar Jr. just before that fateful pitch to Charles Johnson, and later Edgar Renteria's cheap hit always slips under Tony Fernandez's glove.

Oh, yeah. Those details I wasn't going to bring up. Sorry about that.

After Friday night, though, there is finally a positive highlight to add to that list, courtesy of LeBron James.

The Cavaliers might not win an NBA championship this season. If they continue to fritter away big leads against the Orlando Magic, they might not even win this series.

But James' buzzer-beating 3-pointer, off an inbounds pass from Mo Williams with one second to play, won Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals and changed the series in an instant.

The Cavaliers were one second from a 2-0 deficit heading into Games 3 and 4 in Orlando. Now they have a chance to regain home-court advantage, and that chance came by way of a moment that will be burned into the memory of Clevelanders for decades to come.

It was about time one of those moments went our way. Cleveland has played Charlie Brown to fate's Lucy for much too long. We've even come to accept that at some point, she's going to yank that football away and we're going to miss it and fall flat on our backs again.

With 13.6 seconds to play and the game tied at 93, I wondered out loud what strange, hideous twist of fate would cause the Cavaliers to lose.

Hedo Turkoglu cooperated with a runner in the lane to give Orlando the lead with one second to play.

Game over. NBA championship hopes circling the drain. Just another Cleveland choke job.

But not on James' watch. Not this time.

For once.



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