Father’s Day is this weekend, and, while it can be tricky as hell trying to come up with the right gift to give your dad, sometimes, it’s something completely out of your control that ends up being the most memorable.
For me, that’s what happened in 2016, when my hometown Cleveland Cavs shocked the world by overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, becoming the first team in league history to pull off the comeback of a lifetime. The championship was Cleveland’s first major sports title since 1964 — when the Browns won the NFL Championship — and became a defining moment in the city’s history following LeBron James’ tearful rejoice; “CLEVELAND, THIS IS FOR YOU!”
"CLEVELAND… THIS IS FOR YOU!" pic.twitter.com/CtOzPWoNHn
— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) June 20, 2016
We all know the story about how the Cavs won that title — which, biased or not, has to go down as the greatest accomplishment in James’ illustrious career. But it’s a moment that I’ll never forget because of how (and more importantly with whom) I watched it.
Look, we’ve all got those moments with our dads that never leave us. Whether it’s the typical throwing the ball in the backyard or learning how to fish over a cold beer, it’s in those times where we realize what makes our dad so unique. Personally, I never seemed to have those with my dad. It’s not that he wasn’t around much or didn’t show interest, it’s that, since I was younger, I’ve always been obsessed with sports. That was quite the opposite for my dad.
Sure, he’d be at my games and support me, but there was never that conversation afterwards about how I was dropping my elbow too much while batting in little league, or how I needed to try something differently when shooting free throws. He knew his lane, stayed in it, and wasn’t about to offer some advice that he wasn’t familiar with. He was always encouraging me, but it wasn’t necessarily in my sports career.
That’s why the Father’s Day of 2016 will forever be so memorable; because we watched history happen together.
— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) April 19, 2020
As fate would have it, I was actually spending a month at home during that summer of 2016. Long story, but I was about to move to Portland from Seattle with a girl I had previously been dating, and, rather than fly back and forth between weddings and an annual 4th of July party my parents host, I decided to stay the whole month of June — which the ex-girlfriend was not too fond of. Little did I know then that it would end up being one of the best decisions I could make.
I remember watching Game 6 on a Thursday night with my parents, hoping that LeBron and the Cavs would be able to stave off elimination and, at the time, just give us fans some hope that another Cleveland sports team wouldn’t lead us to tears. It ended as beautifully as it could have, with the Cavs blowing out the Warriors, and Steph Curry losing his cool by throwing his mouthpiece into the front row. Golden State may have finally reached their tipping point.
After the game, I remember thinking to myself, wait, could this actually happen?
As Game 7 approached that Father’s Day, I had no plans to watch anywhere but the comfort of my parents’ couch. Friends had been asking me to go to bars to watch. Some were hosting get togethers. Others were planning on being amongst swarms of crowds.
Not me, I was too locked in, nervous and couldn’t keep my mind in check. It honestly felt as if I was playing in the game.
The contest ended up being an all-time classic, as LeBron James showed why he’s the greatest player on the planet, with his sidekick at the time, Kyrie Irving, hitting one of the most clutch shots in NBA history. If you want to see a grown man cry over and over — and absolutely lose his shit — just have me watch the final four minutes of Game 7 of that 2016 NBA Finals; because, sheesh, it’s an emotional roller coaster.
It was during those final four minutes that my dad and I shared, arguably, the greatest moments we ever had together in sports. We yelled at the TV together with each possession. We anxiously gripped pillows as clutch free throws were being shot. We nervously prayed (literally) that LeBron would lead the Cavs to a title.
In all my years playing sports, I had never seen my dad be so passionate and so attached to a moment as I did that Father’s Day in 2016. When the Cavs hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy, he and I shared tears of joy, hugs and smiles that will forever stay with me. It’s a moment that I’ll always cherish, and I’m lucky to have experienced it with him on a day that’s meant to bring a kid and his dad together — and that’s something no Father’s Day card can ever do.