The greatest moment in Cleveland sports history?

Written May 24th, 2009 by Jeff

By now you’ve seen it several hundred times.  LeBron James burying a buzzer-beating three-point shot to win Game 2 and save the Cavaliers season.

The BBC and many others have quickly labeled it as “The Greatest Moment In Cleveland Sports History”. But is it truly? I’ve spent 36 hours, since the shot went through the rim, debating that very topic. Frankly, I can’t find another moment that would top it.

Yes, I do believe that Cie Grant wrapping his arms around Ken Dorsey and forcing an incomplete pass to win the 2003 Fiesta Bowl (and the National Championship) for Ohio State to be the best moment I have ever experienced in sports….but that’s not Cleveland sports. It’s Ohio State, and many Clevelanders adopt OSU as their second home, yet that moment is not a Cleveland moment.

So, can you find a better moment in Cleveland history? Here’s a few of my personal favorites;

  • Bernie Kosar hitting Webster Slaughter deep down the left sideline against the New York Jets late in a 1987 playoff game. The Jets led by 10 points with just over 2 minutes left, and the Browns won in 2OT, 23-20.
  • Albert Belle slugging a game-tying home run in the 11th inning of Game 1 of the 1995 American League Divisional Playoffs, then flexing his muscles at the Red Sox dugout after Boston stole the bat, claiming it was corked (it wasn’t).
  • The Cavaliers dominating the first five minutes of the 4th quarter of Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit, forcing Rasheed Wallace to lose his mind and get ejected on his way to defeat.  The Cavs went on to win the game and the Eastern Conference.
  • Omar Vizquel hitting a bases-loaded triple with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, tying the Seattle Mariners after trailing the game 14-2.
  • A last-second shot by Damon Jones beats the Washington Wizards in overtime of Game 6 in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, 114-113.  Just before Jones’ winner, Gilbert Arenas was at the line with a 1-point lead and a chance to make it 3.  LeBron James snuck up behind him and said “if you miss these, you know who’s hitting the game winner”.  Arenas missed both free throws.

All of these moments are legendary in Cleveland.  But do any of them really top what we saw two nights ago?

To be truthful, that hasn’t fully been determined yet.  If the Cavs go on to win the series and the Finals, yes.  Without a doubt.  But as was the case with most great moments, they were wiped away when the corresponding Cleveland team failed in the goal to win a title.

If LeBron James wants his moment to live forever the way it should, he needs 7 more wins to do it.

Tonight, Mr. James, you can defend your moment.  Beat the Magic and continue that goal.