In this space last month, I compared the rebounding oil prices and increase in pipeline activity to the plight of the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year’s NBA Finals. The team faced a 3-1 deficit to the Golden State Warriors, reigning champions, holders of the best ever regular season record and a team that seemed unstoppable.
Furthermore, no team in NBA history had ever come back to win the Finals down 3-1, and no major sports team in Cleveland had won a championship in 52 years. Yet, the Cavs went ahead and won anyway. They defied the odds. I’m still a little in shock.
People like to say, “Act like you’ve been there before,” when it comes to celebrating victories. I’m sorry, but this is new to me. I’ve been a Cleveland sports fan all my life, but I wasn’t around in 1964 when the last Cleveland team won a championship. Give me this.
We’re used to seeing Cleveland’s lowlight reel. Our teams seem to have a knack for being on the wrong end of touchstone moments in professional sports. Willie Mays’ “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series. John Elway’s “The Drive” to win the 1986-1987 AFC Championship Game. Michael Jordan’s game-winning “The Shot” in the 1989 NBA Playoffs. That’s only three, but we don’t have all day. Look up “Cleveland sports curse” if you want all the gory details. And yet, the last two minutes of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals allowed us to ease those painful memories.
Now we have LeBron James’ “The Block,” Kyrie Irving’s “The Three” and Kevin Love’s “The Stop.” Finally, we have some highlights to outshine the gloom, three touchstone plays of our own to erase the sinking feeling we always get when, say, James attempts to slam home a monster dunk with 10.6 seconds to go to seal the game, only to be rejected, only to fall hard on his wrist, a wrist that we just know is broken and will force James to miss his free throws, allowing the Warriors to tie the game and send it into overtime where the Cavs will fall short again without their best player.
But that’s not what happened.
James got up, shook off the pain and made it a four-point lead. Then everyone held their breath as the Warriors’ attempted three-pointer clanked harmlessly, gloriously off the rim at the buzzer.
So what’s the point of spouting off about my Cleveland sports fandom? There’s a lesson we can draw from the Cavs’ win. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds and in the face of historic failure, one can indeed achieve greatness. The Cavs rebounded from their 3-1 deficit, and the pipeline industry too will recover from its downturn.
In fact, it’s already happening. Oil prices have hovered around $45-$50 per barrel since May and have trended steadily upward since the beginning of the year. While there has been some major consolidation in the industry, pipeline projects seem to be picking up steam as companies focus on connecting mainlines to customers. Demand remains strong. Maintaining existing pipelines is critical as safety continues to be a major focus. Celebrate your recent victories and look to the future with hope. We can overcome.