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Why a boy from the Canadian Prairies became (and stayed) a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers

Most people know me at Fear the Sword but there's some who may not know exactly why I became a Cavs fan and what it is that made me fall in love with a city I've never been to. This is the story of why I am a Cavs fan.

Meet the new (old) guy
Meet the new (old) guy

My name is Justin Rowan. I'm 22 years old and I'm a Cavs fan. I was born and raised in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada where I have spent my entire life. It's a city of just over 700,000 people in the middle of the Canadian prairies. Winnipeg is a hard working blue collar city that most of it's residents have a love/ hate relationship with. It also has a very passionate fan base when it comes to our sports teams. Unfortunately for myself the one sport I fell in love with was basketball and considering the odds of Winnipeg ever getting an NBA team are slight, I needed to find a team and city that I could get behind.

Now, while I loved basketball as a kid I didn't watch a lot of sports growing up. My dad watched a ton of hockey but after seeing only 3 goals over a 3 hour span I realized that there was no way I could put myself through that consistently. But once I started trying out for my school teams my dad informed me that I needed to get my head out my rear end and become a student of the game. I didn't really understand what he meant by that at the time. I liked watching players dunk the ball and the Vince Carter Era Raptors teams were a lot of fun to watch. But if I were to mimic a player I needed to find a team with a big man that had a nice jumper.

You see, I'm a loyal person. Like most character traits this can be a strength and a weakness. Even as a kid I never understood why people would swap allegiances with what teams they root for. One day I'd hear my friend talking about how a certain player is the best in his respective sport and the next day it would be someone else. "Not me," I thought. When I say a player is the best there is, I'm going to be right -- and when I decide what team to follow it's going to be a team full of winners. No way am I going to flip flop.

Luckily I landed on the biggest winner of them all: Carlos Boozer {Editor's note: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH}. I would watch the highlights on TV and see Boozer showing some nice post moves and touch around the rim. He wasn't great but I was awful, so I embraced this weird looking dude playing for a city I knew nothing about. After a year of watching Boozer, the love affair had started to dwindle {Editor's note: Loyal, my ass}. He didn't seem interesting enough to me and I decided to mold my game after Rasheed Wallace. While I had moved on from Boozer I was still very interested in the team I had been attempting to follow in highlights and box scores. It was an ugly season but it came with it's share of funny moments but something else happened after that season that caught my interest. They just so happened to win the lottery that summer and drafted a 6'8 forward out of St. Vincent, St. Mary's. From that point on I was taken on one of the most fun seven year stretches of pulling for a team that I've ever had. I felt like I lucked into the greatest thing ever. This team I essentially randomly picked ended grew into a young, up and coming force to legitimate title contender and I was even able to watch a bunch of their games on national TV instead of jumping to each morning to watch the highlights and look up stats. While that era ended in a painful manner, I never will be able to forget it is still responsible for cementing the bond I had with basketball. However there was one issue I had after LeBron decided to go to Miami; did I love the Cleveland Cavaliers or was I just a fan of LeBron James?

I knew I hated him for leaving. I felt lost after The Decision happened, to be perfectly honest. I liked other players around the league but not enough to be my favorite player. I wasn't sure if I had the energy to continue following the Cavs after they were so close in my opinion to winning a championship and then in one sentence uttered by a man in an awful shirt; they were back to square one.

See, no team I root for has ever won a championship. I'm a CFL football fan and while Winnipeg has won 10 championships; the last one they won was in 1990. Which is of course the year before I was born (I've considered sacrificing myself to the minor league football gods in exchange for a Grey Cup). They have had 5 appearances since that time and have had incredibly bad luck in each instance. Whether it be a Hall of Fame kicker missing 5 FG's in a game we lost by 3. Or our starting quarterback breaking his arm on a fumbled snap while running out the clock in the Eastern Conference finals leaving a rookie who'd never played before starting the championship game. Furthermore, the one team my city loved more than anything was taken away from us for 15 years before finally returning two years ago. All I know in sports -- and all my city knows in sports -- is heartbreak and all I've ever met it with is optimism. But would this pattern persist when it came to a city I'd never even been to?

The first thing I did after The Decision was decide not to burn my LeBron James jersey. Nobody in Winnipeg would have given a shit looking at my dramatic demonstration and it would have been a waste of money. So I did what any normal person would have done. I hid it away in the bottom of a storage bin and ordered a Boobie Gibson jersey online for $20. Then the strangest shift happened in me; not only did I remain a Cavs fan but I became even more fanatic. I wore my Gibson jersey to college near the end of the historic losing streak. I would talk Cavs to anybody that would listen and when I'd be mocked and torn down I'd explain that I'd been through too much with the team to stop rooting for them. It was my duty to continue to support them. I felt I could identify with Cleveland. It is a city that gets kicked in the groin repeatedly but never gives up just like my hometown.

Of course things have changed dramatically since that terrible post-LeBron year and I have been a big fan of almost every move along the way. The Cavs have taken the spot of my favorite team in any sport and it's been that way for awhile. I might not know what winning a championship feels like but I think all this waiting will make the victory even sweeter when it comes. I also know that the ride has been so much fun over the years. I'm blessed and honored to have found and be taken in by this community and hope to help make the journey even more enjoyable for everyone else from this point forward. Let's go Cavs!