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The final year of the first decade of the 21st Century was, once again, devoid of world championships for Cleveland's teams. But even without trophies ...
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The Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2009: #10-#8
December 25, 2009 · By Erik Cassano

The final year of the first decade of the 21st Century was, once again, devoid of world championships for Cleveland's teams. The Cavaliers mounted a serious charge, but didn't have the height or muscle to match up with the Orlando Magic, and were turned back in the conference finals.

On December 27, the anniversary of the Browns' victory in the 1964 NFL Championship Game, the title drought will officially reach 45 years.

But even without trophies or rings, there was still plenty to remember from the sports year 2009 in Cleveland. From the good (anything involving LeBron James or Josh Cribbs) to the bad (another Tribe fire sale) to the ugly (Braylon Edwards slugging a friend of LeBron's, then getting traded) it was another eventful sports year on the North Coast.

Between now and the end of December, we'll unveil our top 10 Cleveland sports moments from 2009. Sit back and re-live the year that was. 

10. CSU upsets Wake Forest for first NCAA Tourney win since ‘86

March 20

The names and eras change for Cleveland State. But the first-round NCAA Tournament upsets appear to be the one constant.

The week previous, the Vikings men's basketball team had earned their first NCAA Tournament berth in 23 years. That '86 team, led by Ken "Mouse" McFadden and coached by Kevin Mackey, won 29 games and reached the Sweet 16 with upsets over Indiana and St. Joseph's, before losing by one point to David Robinson and Navy.

The 2008-09 squad was the product of a resurgence led by coach Gary Waters. With a team built around senior leaders Cedric Jackson and J'Nathan Bullock, Waters' Vikings went 26-11 and captured their first Horizon League tournament victory over perennial conference powerhouse Butler. The win earned them the conference's outright NCAA Tournament bid and a trip to Miami as a Midwest region 13-seed. Their first-round opponent was 4-seed Wake Forest.

The game really wasn't even close. The Vikings jumped out to a 17-point first half lead and held onto the lead for the duration of the game, withstanding a second-half Demon Deacons rally before ultimately putting them away 84-69.

Cleveland State fell to Arizona 71-57 in the round of 32, but for a midmajor school that hadn't danced on college basketball's biggest floor since the days of pastel pullovers and "Purple Rain," it was a quest completed. 

9. Harrison and Cribbs set records vs. Chiefs

December 20

Josh Cribbs and Jerome Harrison reached the history books from different avenues in the Browns' showdown with the Chiefs in Kansas City.

Cribbs has already established himself as a dynamic talent, an exceptional athlete and the best special teams player in the league. Harrison has spent the balance of his career as a situational bit player, making cameo appearances, ripping off a few substantial runs before disappearing into the background again for weeks.

When Cribbs takes a kickoff or a punt back for a touchdown, it's exciting but not surprising. It's what he does. So to really leave a mark, Cribbs had to outdo himself.

He did exactly that in the first half against Kansas City, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns. Not only that, the returns measured 100 and 103 yards. In the span of two field-length kickoff returns, Cribbs set the NFL career record for kickoff return TDs with eight, and tied the league record for kickoff return TDs in a game. Miami's Ted Ginn Jr. is the only other player to have two 100-yard touchdowns of any kind in a single game.

The first half belonged to Cribbs. The second half belonged to Harrison. With some blocking help from fullback Lawrence Vickers, Harrison spent the rest of the game tearing up the Chiefs' 29th-ranked defense for 286 yards rushing, the greatest rushing day in Browns history and third on the NFL's all-time single game list. Harrison scored three touchdowns on runs of eight, 28 and 71 yards. The 28-yard score was the difference in the game as the Browns prevailed 41-34.

Cribbs is already a major part of the Browns' future. With his performance against Kansas City, Harrison might be making his case for being in the Browns' future plans. 

8. Delonte West arrested on weapons charge

September 17

Delonte West is a complicated person, which leads to having complicated relationships.

In September, the relationship between West and the Cavs became exponentially more complicated when West was arrested in Prince George's County, Maryland after police allegedly found him toting three firearms and a large amount of ammunition during a traffic stop. West was riding a three-wheeled motorcycle and had reportedly been driving erratically, prompting police to stop him.

West has endured an ongoing and highly-publicized battle with depression and bipolar disorder. This wasn't the first time he had behaved abnormally, but it was by far the most severe incident.

The arrest was the beginning of a bizarre several-month period for West. He appeared for the Cavs' media day just prior to the start of training camp looking upbeat and talking to the media about his desire to put the arrest behind him and get ready for the season.

That's the last time West has spoken to the media. He missed the entire preseason schedule and the first three games of the regular season.  Since then, he's bounced around between active and inactive, depending on what kind of day he's having. Over the past month, however, his playing time has become more regular and he's once again cemented himself in Mike Brown's rotation.

But increased playing time does not necessarily signal the all-clear. With court dates coming up for West, this saga is nowhere close to ending. And West's emotional state will need to be constantly monitored, addressed and treated by the Cavs, their team doctors and West himself. 

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