CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The World Champions are home. The Cleveland Cavaliers walked off a plane to thousands of screaming fans Monday afternoon. LeBron James was carrying the championship trophy, Kevin Love had a title belt and JR Smith remained shirtless.
No one had trouble recognizing all the players as they walked down the steps of the plane outside the I-X Center in Cleveland.
Yes, the Cavaliers are the 2016 NBA champions. "CLEVELAND! This is for you!" LeBron James said Sunday night. "I'm home. I'm home. ... I'm at a loss for words. This is unbelievable."
No, it was not a dream Cleveland.
The Cavs are the first team in league history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in an NBA Finals best-of-seven series. They were led by LeBron James, who was named the Finals' Most Valuable Player.
"I knew what I learned in the last couple years that I was gone," LeBron said, "And I knew if I had to - when I came back, I knew I had the right ingredients and the right blueprint to help this franchise get back to a place that we've never been. That's what it was all about."
"Right now, it's just excitement. It's not even relief. It's just excitement for us as a team, as a franchise, as a city, as a community. To be able to continue to build up our city, to continue to be an inspiration to our city, it means everything. I'm happy to be a part of it," LeBron said.
The team iflew to Cleveland Monday morning after a quick stop to celebrate in Las Vegas,
A large stage was set up at I-X Center for the welcome celebration. Thousands showed up to great the team.
The city will also celebrate with a parade on Wednesday. No time or details were released yet.
"I want to congratulate the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, coaching staff, players, and fans on an unprecedented NBA finals victory," Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said. "It was against all odds and done in historic fashion. The strength and determination displayed throughout the season, post-season, and championship game are truly the embodiment of our city and its people. A city and a people with heart."
The last Cleveland team to win a major sports championship was the 1964 Browns. The Cavaliers' win ended a 52-year championship drought. I think fans are still in disbelief.
"Just knowing what our city has been through, northeast Ohio has been through, as far as our sports and everything for the last 50-plus years. You could look back to the Earnest Byner fumble, Elway going 99 yards, to Jose Mesa not being able to close out in the bottom of the ninth to the Cavs went to The Finals -- I was on that team -- in 2007, us getting swept, and then last year us losing 4-2. And so many more stories," LeBron said.
"And our fans, they ride or die, no matter what's been going on, no matter the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs and so on, and all other sports teams. They continue to support us. And for us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them."
Thousands of people converged on downtown Cleveland and James' former high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron to watch the game.
Downtown Cleveland was gridlocked around Quicken Loans Arena and Gateway Plaza during and after the game.
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