Timeline of Pain: Top 15 Worst Cleveland Sports Memories

The city of Cleveland has been through a lot since its last championship.

The Browns haven’t won an NFL championship since 1964. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. The Cavaliers won their first NBA Finals game just X days ago in Game 2 of the 2015 championship series.


Needless to say, the professional sports fans in Cleveland have dealt with some serious heartache. Despite his best efforts, Lebron James wasn't able to get his city over the championship hurdle this season, losing in six games to Golden State in the NBA Finals. For what it's worth, the superstar should have been the MVP in a losing effort.


As a heavy underdog to the Dubs and without two star players, the loss isn't nearly as painful as some of the other gut-wrenching moments in Cleveland sports history.


Note: Cleveland fans, avert your eyes.


October 2, 1954

The Indians won 97 games in 1954, posting one of the best records in franchise history. Willie Mays made one of the most famous catches in baseball history in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the World Series. What most don’t remember, however, is that had Mays not made the play, the Indians likely would have returned home to Cleveland tied 1-1 in the series against the Giants. Instead, Cleveland was swept and lost Game 4 at home in front of 78,102 fans.


April 17, 1960

The Curse of Rocky Colavito haunted Cleveland for more than three decades. The Indians right fielder led the league with 42 home runs in 1959 but was inexplicably traded by GM Frank Lane to Detroit for Harvey Kuenn just before the ’60 season began. Colavito hit 139 home runs in four seasons for the Tigers while Kuenn played one year in Cleveland, hitting nine home runs. Cleveland didn’t finish within 11 games of first place again until 1993.


July 13, 1966

Many believe Jim Brown is the greatest running back of all-time. So his unexpected retirement at age 29 shocked the NFL and the city of Cleveland prior to the 1966 season. Brown was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher when he retired (12,312) and had just led the NFL in rushing (1,544) and touchdowns (17) in 1965 before hanging up the cleats for the silver screen. His Browns single-season rushing record of 1,863 is the oldest team record in the NFL today.


January 4, 1980

In one of the coldest games in NFL playoff history — try minus-36 degrees wind chill — the Browns turned in their first of many painful playoff home losses. The “Kardiac Kids” only needed a field goal to beat Oakland with time running out in the AFC Divisional round. But Brian Sipe threw a last-minute interception in the end zone that gave the Raiders the win 14-12. The famous call from head coach Sam Rutigliano was Red Right 88.


Related: Purchase your 2015 Cleveland Browns preview magazine here!


January 11, 1987

Infamously dubbed “The Drive,” the first of many painful John Elway memories for Cleveland fans took place 5:32 away from the Super Bowl. Elway drove the Broncos 98 yards to tie the AFC Championship Game at 20-20 with less than 40 seconds left. Denver earned a trip to the Super Bowl with a game-winning field goal in overtime, knocking off the 12-4 Browns in Cleveland — what many consider the best team in franchise history.


January 17, 1988

One year later, Elway and the Broncos were once again the culprit of the Browns' Super Bowl sorrow. Down by five points with 1:12 left to play on the nine-yard line in the AFC title game, Ernest Byner broke free off the left edge and appeared poised to go into the end zone. But he fumbled just shy of the goal line, Denver recovered and advanced to its second straight Super Bowl.


May 7, 1989

The Cavaliers won 57 games in the 1988-89 season, setting a franchise record for wins at the time. In the first round of the playoffs, Craig Ehlo gave the Cavaliers a lead over the Bulls with three seconds to play in the decisive Game 5 of the series. But Michael Jordan would begin to build his NBA legend with a play affectionately dubbed “The Shot.” The game-winning jump shot with no time remaining was the first of many painful Jordan-related memories for Cavs fans.


January 14, 1990

For the third time in four years, the Browns lost in the AFC Championship Game to Elway and the Broncos. After a low-scoring first half, the Browns entered the fourth quarter down 24-21. Elway outscored Cleveland 13-0 in the fourth quarter and moved on to the Super Bowl once again.


May 17, 1993

One year after losing to the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs got swept by Michael Jordan in the playoffs yet again. Jordan drilled a fadeaway jumper with two guys in his face to win Game 4 103-101 and finish off the series. It was the fourth of five times that Jordan would eliminate the Cavs from the playoffs.


Related: Game 1 Proves LeBron James Deserves the MVP Every Year


November 6, 1995

At a press conference at Camden Yards, Browns owner Art Modell announced that he was relocating the franchise to Baltimore for the 1996 season. Subsequent legal action eventually led to the creation of an entirely new organization named the Baltimore Ravens. “The Move” left Cleveland without football for an unfathomable three years.


October 26, 1997

Up there with The Fumble and The Drive and The Shot is Jose Mesa’s blown save three outs away from a championship in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. A costly Tony Fernandez error set up a game-tying sac fly by Craig Counsell. Edgar Renteria won the Series for the Marlins with a game-winning base knock in the bottom of the 11th inning.


January 5, 2003

The one and only time the second rendition of the Browns has been to the postseason it lost to Pittsburgh in truly Cleveland fashion. The Browns led the archrival Steelers 24-7 with just a few minutes left in the third quarter. Pittsburgh went on to outscore Cleveland 29-9 over the final 19 minutes. It’s the only playoff game the new Browns have played in since returning to the league in 1999.


October 21, 2007

After winning three straight games to take a 3-1 lead over the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, the Indians proceeded to lose three straight and the series. Boston outscored Cleveland 30-5 over the last three games. The Indians won 96 games in 2007.


May 11, 2010

In one of the most bizarre nights in pro sports, LeBron James spent his final home game in Cleveland missing shots, mishandling the basketball and looking generally uninterested. It was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Boston took a 3-2 series lead with a 120-88 drubbing of the Cavs. James was 3-of-14 from the floor in 41:40 minutes of lethargic play. It was an eerie evening for Cavs fans and a precursor of what was to come a few months later.

July 8, 2010

“In this fall… this is very tough… in this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” It made money for charity and it eventually led to multiple championships for the Heat, but Cavs fan likely don’t care about any of that — or the poor grammar.

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