It's a dream. All of it. And much like a dream, I woke up only remembering bits and pieces of it, bursts of important moments that come flooding back at random times throughout the day.
There was Kyrie Irving hitting what will forever be memorialized as The Dagger, a high-arching 3-pointer that narrowly avoiding scraping the outstretched fingers of the Unanimous MVP, and the subsequent glancing at the clock in the corner of the screen and realizing "holy shit we're actually going to win a championship." There was the celebration at the bar when it was over, a force of emotion so strong it almost knocked over our entire crew like dominoes. There were the tears that hit everyone at different times, from in sync with the final buzzer to ten minutes after the fact.
There was the running up St. Clair from The Flats to find a fire truck in the middle of the road, covered in people as if the world was ending. There was the man doing 10 pull-ups from a streetlight high above the ground. There was the first bar we stepped into, the Naughty Mermaid on West 6th, only to realize they'd almost run completely out of alcohol. There was the shot and the beer, and the trek back outside. There were the streets bathed in people, no longer streets at all but concrete platforms for jubilation.
That's what stood out to me the most, in the days that came after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Championship, when the city returned to its state of pre-mayhem. Driving in to work on those same roads that were once drowned in thousands of shrieking fans, I kept having flashbacks, like some sort of Championship PTSD. I'd stare down Prospect, my eyes fixed on the oversized "JACK" that hangs vertically down the casino of its namesake, and the sky would darken. In an instant, the people returned to the street, louder and more festive, and then they are gone. The sun is back the street is empty, though I'm not convinced that in some alternate timeline people aren't still turning up in the streets all over downtown. That's happened over and over and over again like a dream you can't forget because you never want to.
It's been almost a week since the Cavs ended the sports championship drought that felt like it would last until humans were overtaken by the robot rebellion, and it still feels like a fever dream. Every time I turn on the radio and listen to someone say the words "Cleveland, NBA Champions," it feels sick a joke. Like Ashton Kutcher is going to pop out of the bushes and yell "JUST KIDDING BRAH! GOT YA!" Or I'm going to be walking and suddenly run into an invisible wall, realizing I'm living out a real life Truman Show and nothing that's happened here in the last week has been real, just torturous entertainment for the rest of the world watching Clevelanders on TV.
It is real, of course, and this feeling of floating over the city that I've had for the past week is more pleasant than frightening. We've officially passed the torch of most miserable fan base that has hung over our shoulders like a weighted shackle for eternity to San Diego, and sun hasn't stopped dancing in the sky above since Sunday. Perhaps this was how it was always meant to feel. For so long, that's all a championship here was, a dream. Maybe having it feel that way forever is as perfect as it gets.