- Associated Press - Sunday, June 19, 2016

CLEVELAND (AP) - Cleveland sports fans know what it means to suffer given that the city’s major sports teams haven’t won a championship in 52 years.

On Sunday morning, Cleveland Cavaliers fans exuded a quiet confidence that with star forward LeBron James leading the way, the city’s unmatched streak of sports futility might finally end. The Cavaliers play the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night in Oakland for a decisive Game 7 to determine the NBA title. It’s a rematch of last year’s NBA finals that saw the Warriors beat the injury-riddled Cavs in six games.

Billy Bass, of Cleveland, sat outside a Starbucks in downtown Cleveland Sunday said he was certain that the Cavs would win.

“I’m feeling confident about tonight,” the 75-year-old said. “The curse can’t go on forever. You know why? We have the king. The king is here, and we’re ready to crown him. We’re ready to bring a championship to Cleveland.”

“The King” as everyone in northeast Ohio knows, is James. Without two of the team’s biggest stars, the pride of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron nearly carried them to an NBA title last year. And after the Cavs were down 3-1 in this series, James lifted the team to big wins in Oakland and then Cleveland to force Game 7.

Bass said he knows people he knows have refused to watch the finals, frightened they’ll jinx the Cavaliers. He said he had got that “here we go again” feeling when the team fell behind 3-1.

“All that’s behind us and we’re ready to roll,” Bass said. “We look like the best team in basketball.”

Brian Romanini lives in Cleveland’s revitalized downtown. He’s 33, but the sting of the Cleveland Indians getting to within one out of a World Series title in 1997 still lingers. Sunday night’s Game 7 has left him roiled with emotions.

“It’s unbelievable and nerve-wracking when you think we’ve got this far but still have the potential for another letdown,” he said.

He also thinks that with James leading the way that Cleveland has more than a fighting chance. A win Sunday night would be a “perfect, storybook ending” for a much-maligned city in the midst of a renaissance.

A Cavaliers’ victory, Romanini said, “would mean everything in the world” to Cleveland.

John Amerman, 57, sat with his wife and two children for brunch at a restaurant in Cleveland’s popular Warehouse District before heading to an afternoon Indians game at Progressive Field, a Father’s Day present. Amerman said he has adopted Cleveland’s sports teams after moving to northeast Ohio in 2003 and is confident this is the night the city gets its sought-after title.

“With LeBron on fire, I don’t think he’s going to let them lose,” Amerman said. “It’s going to be a really big day in Cleveland.”

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