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When the Cleveland Cavaliers struggled and fought and eventually emerged triumphant against the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA championship Sunday, they did more than win a title: They ended what has been called a curse.
The Cavs’ 93-89 win brought Cleveland its first major sports title since 1964, when the Browns beat the then-Baltimore Colts to win the NFL championship — before there was such a thing as a Super Bowl.
"Cleveland! This is for you!” an emotional LeBron James, the finals MVP, shouted after the win.
The Cavaliers also became the first team in the history of the NBA to battle back from a 3-1 series deficit to win the championship.
"To Northeast Ohio and Cleveland: The curse is over," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in presenting the trophy. "The 52-year drought has come to an end."
President Barack Obama tweeted his congratulations, remarking on the nail-biting contest: "What a game."
Intersections near Cleveland’s downtown, where thousands gathered to watch the game that was played in California, were gridlocked after the win. Cleveland police urged anyone outside downtown to stay away because of the large crowds already in the area.
Jubilant fans clambered on top of a fire engine. Police went on Twitter to post a photo and dispel rumors that the apparatus had been stolen, but added "This, however, is not okay."
Cleveland’s title drought has been the stuff of near legend in Ohio. Its NFL team, the Browns, has been derided in recent years as the place that kills the careers of quarterbacks. A popular video posted online referred to the Browns' stadium as a "Factory of Sadness."
The Cleveland Indians baseball team made it to the World Series in 1997, but lost Game 7 to the Florida Marlins.
"I never ever thought I would see this would happen," Tim Lovell from Canfield, Ohio, who sat on the 50-yard line when Denver quarterback John Elway broke Cleveland's heart with "The Drive" in the 1986 AFC Championship game, told The Associated Press.
"I tell you what, with about two minutes to go I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I've seen 'The Drive' and I've seen 'The Fumble' and I've seen Michael Jordan kill us with The Shot,'" Lovell said.
John Kasich, Ohio's governor and a former Republican presidential candidate, said on Twitter, "It can now be said. Cleveland: Home of champions."
Cleveland's basketball fans were elated to see the Cavs make the playoffs in 2015, but Cleveland was defeated in six games by the same team they beat Sunday.
James, a native of Ohio, left the Cavaliers in 2010 to join the Miami Heat, but returned to Cleveland in 2014 and was emotional after Sunday's win. "I'm home. This is what I came back for," James said.
Cleveland police said early Monday morning that "so far not many arrests, but a lot of happy fans." But photos on social media appeared to show a police vehicle with its windshield smashed in amid the celebration.
A police spokesperson said early Monday that there were at least two arrests, but a more definitive number would be released later. A police officer was struck by a car and suffered a leg injury by a driver who did not stop, the spokesperson said. One police car was damaged.
In Oakland, California, where Sunday's game was played, police said it was investigating a "post-game altercation" that ended with a man in his 20s falling over a railing at Oracle Arena. Police said the man was taken to a local hospital but his condition was not released. The man was not identified.
Cleveland’s Terminal Tower downtown lit up in the Cavaliers’ colors of wine and gold after the win.
"We made history tonight," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "Cleveland, Ohio, we coming back, baby! Let's go!" he said.
Moments after the win, the team's official Twitter announced the victory with the a three-word sentence: "Believe it, Cleveland."