Cleveland's seven-game NBA Finals triumph over Golden State was filled with enough story lines for a book. Among the biggest: The team with the best record in NBA history goes down (losing the same number of games in the postseason, nine, as it lost in the regular season). LeBron James brings a championship to Cleveland — and in the process gives that city its first title in one of the widely regarded four major U.S. men's pro sports leagues (the NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL) since 1964.
Quietly within the context of that last item, a torch was passed. Now that Cleveland has won a championship, the market that is on the hook as having the longest drought in those four leagues is none other than Minneapolis-St. Paul.
But before we go any further with that point, let's delve into the idea of "major" and other caveats:
Your first — and very logical — question about this might be to ask, "What about the Lynx?" And no, I'm not forgetting their three WNBA titles in the past five seasons. Nor am I forgetting about the second-division soccer championships won by Minnesota teams, or any other title won by a local pro team. I'm only playing by the rules generally agreed upon when we talk about "major" championships.
As of now, the four aforementioned leagues — with millionaire athletes and massive TV contracts among the factors that give them separation from other leagues — are considered the big ones. That might be an antiquated notion.
Some have suggested Major League Soccer has become the fifth major league in the United States. WNBA supporters can make the rightful argument that as the best women's basketball league in the world, the WNBA should be part of the conversation. For now, though, the general consensus — fair or not — is still that there are just four.
Also, this Minneapolis/St. Paul title drought designation is being measured against only those U.S. markets that have at least three pro teams spread among the NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL. Hence markets such as Portland, Salt Lake City or the oft-tortured Buffalo are not included. There are 18 U.S. markets that have at least three of those teams.
With those asides considered, these facts remain:
• The Twins were the last of the "big four" teams in Minnesota to win a championship, in 1991. Washington D.C. is close behind, with a Super Bowl in early 1992 (won in Minnesota, no less) being that city's most recent "big four" title. The Boston area has won approximately 11 billion championships in that span, using rosters comprised of roughly 87 percent Minnesota connections.
• Perhaps just as cruel as the championship drought — which will reach 25 years in October, barring some sort of Twins miracle — is the fact that none of the "big four" teams in this market have even PLAYED for and LOST a leaguewide championship game or series during that span.
The legacies of these four teams are all the more reason to appreciate just what the Lynx have accomplished.