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The Top Cleveland Sports Stories of 2009: #2
December 30, 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. 

The Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2009: #10-#8

The Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2009: #7-#5

The Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2009: #4 Wedge Fired, Acta Hired

The Top Cleveland Sports Stories of 2009: #3 LeBron's Sweet Shot Stuns Magic

2. Shaq enters the building

June 25

Shaq might be reduced to a role player in his old age, but when he arrives in town to play for your team, it's still a big deal.

Burned by the manhandling that Dwight Howard gave the Cavs frontcourt in the Eastern Conference Finals, Danny Ferry decided the only recourse was to get bigger in the low post. And he knew that his good friend, Suns GM Steve Kerr, could probably hook him up with the biggest of the big.

Shaq fared well during his only full season in Phoenix, averaging more than 17 points and 8 rebounds per game. But his slow, lumbering frame didn't really fit the uptempo Suns, who were looking for a way to cut some salary regardless.

So on the eve of the NBA Draft, Ferry and Kerr revisited a deal they had reportedly discussed around the trading deadline in February, and Shaq was moved to Cleveland. The Suns received the expiring contracts of Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic, who were both subsequently bought out by the team.

About a week later, Shaq made his first public appearance in Cleveland, arriving at his introductory press conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts to a great deal of fanfare. He declared that his mission this year is to "win a ring for the King" and referred to himself as "witness protection," noting that his job is to support LeBron James.

Thus far, Shaq has been a cooperative team player, recognizing his role in fitting around LBJ. He has, at times, looked every bit his 37-going-on-38 years. His jump hooks aren't falling and he looks downright snail-like at times. But at times, he's also shown that he's still Shaq, he's still larger than life, and he still has a Shaq-sized ego.

In games against the Magic and Lakers, Shaq has looked his best, taking the direct challenges of facing Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, and using them as fuel for his still-burning competitive fire.

Shaq is headed for career lows in minutes, points and rebounds per game. But even in the waning years of his career, he's still 7'-1" and 325 pounds of prime-time player for the Cavs. He might not be able to bring it every night, but as long as he can still bring it in May and June, when back-to-back games aren't a factor and every game is a big one, that's what matters. 

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