Cavaliers fans subdued after Finals loss but hopeful for next season

CLEVELAND -- A pair of jazz musicians threw some soothing notes to Cleveland Cavaliers fans as they walked out of Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night and headed north to East Fourth Street.

Daniel Goodrum and Gary Efford, both 60, stood on the corner of Fourth and Prospect and eased disappointment with music.

"Cleveland, Ohio," Efford sang, "Don't be sad, don't you fear. The Cavs will be back early next year. ... Hi-dee-ho. ... Baby, don't you want to go."

Fans who had just left the Q after the Cavs lost the NBA Finals in a 105-97 Game 6 defeat to the Golden State Warriors stopped to dance, to enjoy, to bob to the music.

This twosome captured the mood of Cleveland fans, who have to wait another season for that long-elusive championship but walk away with great pride in their team and in LeBron James, who said he came home to win a title and came up two games short.

Fans started Game 6 loud and boisterous, and they never quit. Some said there was a defeatist mood in Cleveland during the day, but it never showed in the Q.

The fans showed up early and stayed until the bitter end, cheering as the Cavs fought back from large deficits to keep the game tight. They cheered more when James went to every Golden State player on the court and to the Warriors' bench to congratulate coach Steve Kerr before leaving the game with 10.6 seconds left.

When the Finals ended, James turned and immediately exited as the fans started to filter their way to the door. There was anger but no yelling, disappointment but no bitterness, and plenty of wishing what could have been.

Prominent Cleveland attorney and civic leader Fred Nance walked out with his wife, Jakki. The two were disappointed but still smiling at the reality that a team with James and guys who had been backups for most of the season had taken the Warriors close to the limit. That a team without two injured All-Stars in Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving still led the Finals two games to one and still competed to the final second.

"What can you do?" Nance said.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr understood.

"The injuries they suffered were just too much," said Kerr, who played in Cleveland for three seasons. "This would have been a different series with Kyrie and Kevin Love."

The immediate area surrounding the Q suffered in relative quiet, but it did not burn.

Fans walked out toward their cars and nightspots without screaming or yelling or damaging anything.

They sighed at the loss but took selfies with the horses of the Cleveland mounted police. High to their left, the Terminal Tower -- built in 1926 -- still showed the Cavs' colors, the large banner of James with his arms extended below it and to the left.

An Ohio Highway Patrol officer did nothing to a couple of young women who obviously had imbibed, only telling a friend to take care of them. As fans gathered on East Fourth, two high-fived each other as they passed. "Next year," one said to the other.

"Cleveland against the world" read one shirt, a feeling that has been common in Cleveland as its city's sports teams have struggled through no championships since the NFL's Cleveland Browns beat the Baltimore Colts in 1964.

The struggle continues.

But it didn't seem that anybody felt cheated by this team's effort.

As Goodrum said, his trumpet in his right hand: "We'll be all right."

Jacob Burnett of suburban Broadview Heights walked out with his parents, Mike and Maria. The trio shared the "what if?" feeling about injuries, the disappointment at not winning.

But Jacob, 18, offered one last thought with a smile: "Indians in six."