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Is Cleveland the Worst Sports City with the Worst Luck? Yeah, It Is!

Updated on June 17, 2016

Good News Might Be Coming

As I edit this, the Cleveland Cavaliers have come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals and have forced a Game 7 in the 2016 NBA finals. Lets hope they can win this, because this may be Cleveland's best shot at getting a title back into the city. Here is HOPING fans!

Cleveland, OH Fast Facts

  1. Population of almost 400,000
  2. Located on the Upper East Side on Lake Erie
  3. Home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  4. Cleveland Browns NFL Team
  5. Cleveland Indians MLB Team
  6. Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Team
  7. Last major Championship appearance was in 2007 in the NBA finals which they lost.
  8. Last Championship was in 1964 by the Browns

First you have to put this into context!

Now barring Lebron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, after spurning them like an awful prom date, the city of Cleveland, Ohio is cursed for sports.

You could also call it the black hole for sports stars, they just can't wait to get out. And who can blame them when they bolt.

So to measure this we will first get rid of all the cities that don't have at least 3 major sports team out of the big four sports; the MLB, NBA, NHL or NFL.

And then from there we will look at each of the teams in the major sports for the Cleveland area and discuss them individually and go over their accomplishments, or lack there of.

1976–77 Cleveland Barons home jersey Hockey Hall of Fame
1976–77 Cleveland Barons home jersey Hockey Hall of Fame | Source

The Professional Team that Wasn't Meant to Be.

Maybe a little to early in history for many of the newest generation to remember but there was hockey in Cleveland. The Barons were a transplant from Oakland and played a couple of seasons in Cleveland from 1976 to 1978.

But due to lackluster seasons, poor attendance, and financial troubles the team was in trouble. The Minnesota Stars were also in trouble so the two teams were allowed to merge. The North Stars were the surviving team and a NHL team in the Cleveland area was no more.

Later the team was relocated again to Dallas and lo and behold they won the NHL Stanley Cup in the 1998-1999 season. One in a long line of bad luck.


The Cleveland Browns

The last championship won by Cleveland was done by the Browns during the Jim Brown and Paul Brown era. A powerhouse of football and led by a coach and player with the same name as their team was quite an ironic coincidence.

In the earliest era of the NFL the Cleveland Browns were a powerhouse in football. A team at the pinnacle of success it played in 11 NFL championship games winning 4 of them. Before the modern era of football they were one of the top teams. Then it all went away.

Then came the modern era of football and some dry times. After suffering from many non-playoff appearances a South Beach University of Miami player burst onto the scene. Bernie Kosar was baptized on the field and thrown right into the mix and with his throwing, two star running backs, and a defensive minded coach in Schottenheimer they went to three AFC championships. But from there they ran into the might Denver Broncos and never made it to the NFL championship in any of those years.

Art Modell now came back into the limelight. After the firing of Paul Brown he was not well liked. But now his idea of moving the team to Baltimore met with even more anger from Cleveland fans. After a bitter season in 1995 the Browns were moved and renamed the Baltimore Ravens.

An in just 5 short years in 2000 the Baltimore Ravens were NFL champions.

Bill Belichick who was also fire by Art Modell before the relocation went on to coach the Patriots and we all know the success he had there.


In 1999 Al Lerner brought the Browns back to Cleveland as a new expansion team. With money and high hopes they tried to build a winning team but they were never the same making the playoffs only 1 time in 2002.

The Lerner's decided to sell the team to Jimmy Haslam who has high aspirations of leading the Browns back to glory. In the latest NFL draft they drafted the wildly controversial "Johnny Football" in hopes of bringing fame and fans back to Cleveland.

The hopes of the city rest with a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and now more controversy follows with his lack of focus to the team and other problems with Browns WR Josh Gordon who faces possible suspension for substance abuse.

Best Player
Bob Feller
LeBron James
Jim Brown
Last Championship
Heartbreak Moments
Curse of Rocky Colavito
The Shot
The Drive, The Fumble
Keith Allison on Flickr - Originally posted to Flickr as "Terry Francona"
Keith Allison on Flickr - Originally posted to Flickr as "Terry Francona" | Source

The Cleveland Indians a Long Long Slump....

I think beside the Cubs the Indians have the longest shutout in Baseball history for years without a championship. They have won 2 World Series in 1920 and 1948 since then it has been 65 years without a championship.

Some of their best years were in the mid 90s where they went to the Series twice and lost to the Marlins and Braves. They also went to the series in 1954 but they were swept by the Giants.

With a loyal fan following called the tribe and an incessant drummer named John Adams they have a loyal fan base finally honoring the fans after a sellout record 455 straight home games. The number 455 was retired in the fans honor and the record stood till the Red Sox broke it in 2008.

After there Series win in 1948 they had good success in the 1950s and there best season in 1954 before the Series Sweep. The Indians 1954 winning percentage of .721 is still the current American League record. Alas the series will always be known for the great catch by Willie Mays.

Then came the downhill slide. Several bad seasons in the 1960s, a bad manger, and a bad trade. This all ushered in the so called "Rocky Colavito" curse which was actually a curse by Rocky just an even that people attribute to the Indians bad luck. It seems the current bad management traded away Rocky who was the AL home run leader because of salary differences.

More bad trades, many who were all stars or went on to win championships with other teams led to more mediocrity. Several ownership changes didn't help either.

Slowly the Indians made it back to prominence in the 1990s with players like Jim Thome, Albert Belle, and Manny Ramirez. Their best finish came in the 1997 Series against the Marlins when they broke the fans hearts being only one out away from winning the Series but eventually lost to the Marlins in extra innings.

Fast forward to today and they have a championship coach. in Terry Francona and a retooled squad to win. They made it back to the playoff losing in the Wild Card Game but their turnaround season led to Francona winning the AL Manager of the Year award.

Keith Allison - originally posted to Flickr as 040707 212
Keith Allison - originally posted to Flickr as 040707 212 | Source

The New Kid on the Block gets Jilted

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a relatively young team starting as an expansion franchise in the 1970s. And with some crafty drafting went on to win the Central Division Title five years later. They eventually lost to the Celtics in Conference Finals but had a couple more playoff appearances the following years.

After several ownership changes the Gund era began and you had the great Cleveland teams of the late eighties and early nineties. With players like Brad Daugherty, Ron Harper, Nance and Price they were poised to make deep playoff runs. And that they did.

Until they ran into the powerhouse Chicago Bulls and their playoff run stopping wall, Michael Jordan. He stopped their runs twice, once with "The Shot" over Craig Ehlo and the second time in the Conference Finals.

After those teams they struggled until they drafted an Akron, OH hometown kid named King James. A change in players, team colors, and ownership led to success for the Cleveland Cavaliers and they found the atop the Eastern Conference once again. LeBron led the Cavaliers to the finals in 2007 but lost to the Spurs in a sweep.

After that they never made it back to the finals coming close several times but losing in the Eastern Conference Finals. Then came the dreaded day of James free agency. And just like that he left Cleveland in a media circus dubbed "The Decision" spurning the Cavs and owner Dan Gilbert like someone jilted at the altar.

Fast forward today, with three huge lottery wins they drafted some good and some not so good players. They resigned Kyrie Irving to a max deal and just drafted Andrew Wiggins and are poised for the ultimate makeup and possible second marriage of the Cavs and King James...But we will see.

What is your Favorite Cleveland Sports Team

See results

Better Teams Sort of Near the Cleveland Ohio Area

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Detroit Pistons
  4. Detroit Tigers
  5. Cincinnati Reds
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Final Opinion

It must be hard to leave in Cleveland, especially with so many surrounding areas boasting great teams. But it seems the fans are loyal and stick with their cities team even if it means wearing paper bags over the heads at games.

Will LeBron come back to Ohio and fulfill his destiny. Will Dan and King James make up. Is there hope to bring greatness to the Cavs and push them into rarefied Cleveland sports lore as the team to win the Championship first.

Or will it be Johnny Football and a rag tag under achieving Browns that storm the gridiron with a devil may care attitude and a chip on their shoulder. And ride this chip all the way to the Super Bowl.

Or maybe it will be the tribe faithful who celebrate in the streets of Ohio cheering and shouting their voices hoarse with glee of a newly minted World Series trophy. With a great coach and an improving team this may be your best bet.

Who can say, I doubt LeBron will come to Cleveland but stranger things have happened. It would be a fairy tale ending to a great career. I would give the Cavs the best shot at winning the first championship in the city if LeBron comes back. If not you might see wailing and gnashing of teeth in the streets and fans burning their jerseys, selling their season tickets, and becoming die hard Indian fans.


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    • Greg Chan profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Bradenton, FL

      Awesome thanks for the fact checking and correction.

    • Robert Levine profile image

      Robert Levine 

      4 years ago from Brookline, Massachusetts

      I don't know how you're getting the figure that the Browns appeared in 11 NFL Championship games--although you're correct that they won four of them. They appeared in & won all four All-American Football Conference Championship games, 1946-1949. Then they appeared in the NFL Championship game 1950-1955, winning the first one and the last two of those; they returned to the Championship game in 1957, losing. Finally, they won the 1964 Championship & lost in the 1965 Championship game. This makes a total of 4 AAFC Championship game appearances and 9 NFL Championship game appaearances. Furthermore, since the NFL was founded in 1920 and the Browns were founded as part of the AAFC in 1946 & joined the NFL in 1950, they didn't exist during the NFL's "earliest era."

    • thom w conroy profile image

      thom w conroy 

      5 years ago

      Transplanted to the Cleveland area about 17 years ago and it still amazes me how the fans here put out good money to see bad product. I can't imagine paying $125 a ticket to watch what the Browns have been putting on the field since they came back in 1999.

    • Greg Chan profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bradenton, FL

      CONGRATULATIONS - Cleveland it looks like the CAVS have become the front runner to win the NEXT championship in your City. Welcome back LeBron.


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