The Comeback: The Story of Everything That Went Into the Cavs NBA Championship

Dec 22, 2016

You’d have to be living under a rock in Northeast Ohio to miss the fact that the dreaded curse ended this year.  The 52-year-pro-sports championship drought came to an end when the Cavs came from being down 3-games-to-1 in the NBA Finals to win Game 7 on the road.

The story of how it all came to pass and the central role LeBron James has played is documented by our sports commentator and Plain Dealer sports writer, Terry Pluto in the new book, "The Comeback:  LeBron, The Cavs & Cleveland." 

Some people might think that what led the Cavs to the championship started two years ago with the return of LeBron James. But the story is one that almost makes it feel like the stars aligned to make this all possible.  It goes all the way back to James in high school.  It’s one that Pluto calls unprecedented. 

“This is one of the greatest players in this area, growing up, playing for his area team, leaves in a very unceremonious and, frankly, a very insulting way for Miami and then decides he want to come back.” 

Pluto says he was taken by that and started working on the book a few months after the return. He didn’t want to wait for a title given Northeast Ohio’s history with the curse.

“This is Cleveland,” adds Pluto with a laugh.  “You don’t win around here.”

A book he needed to write
Pluto says he knew this was a book he needed to write when he read James’ essay in Sports Illustrated announcing his return to the Cavs.

“This [was] going to be a fabulous story, even if it goes sideways.”

Pluto says all indications were that James’ family was unhappy in Miami, to the point that as soon as they season was over, they were back at their home in Bath. 

“I was taken by the essay because it was about a guy who wanted to come home.  Now he wanted to win and wasn’t going to come home unless he believed he could, but he also knew he was taking on the great hope… of ending the title drought.”

A long road to 2016
When the Cavs came up just short in the 2015 NBA finals, Pluto says he knew this was going to be a good book “because I saw the difference in Lebron, how he had matured.”

Pluto says James learned how to win in Miami, something that he says was echoed by two of James’ high school coaches, Keith Dambrot and Dru Joyce.

One fans workplace collection of Cleveland Plain Dealer front pages documenting the lows and highs of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Credit ANDREW MEYER / WKSU

The evolution and transformation of a team
Pluto says he was fascinated by what happened while James was gone.

“For a while, [the Cavs] were begging people to sign contracts, offering them twice as much as other teams and people wouldn’t come.  It was an incredible period.  And in the four-year period he was gone, they have the worst cumulative record in the NBA.”

Add to that a rookie NBA coach David Blatt, a relatively new GM, David Griffin, and a team that lost all the time.  Pluto says there had to be a lot of assurances given to James but adds that it still was a big burden for James to carry.