Oracle Arena in Oakland erupted in a joyous frenzy when the Cleveland Cavaliers beat California's Golden State Warriors 93 to 89 in a stunning game 7 to win their first NBA championship. It was the first sports championship that any Cleveland team has won since 1964.
"What a game," President Obama said in a congratulations tweet.
The nail-biter contest was tied within the final minute of victory in "one of the great games in the history of the league, on the grandest of stages," reported the Washington Post.
Cavalier Kylie Irving flicked his wrist for a three-pointer to decide the game.
But the undisputed hero of the hard-fought series was forward LeBron James, who scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and participated in 11 assists in the last showdown.
James scored an astounding 41 points in each of the previous two games. He is the first player with consecutive 40-point performances in the NBA Finals since Shaquille O'Neal did it in 2000, CNN noted.
He was a unanimous choice for his third Finals MVP, and played all but 71 seconds of game 7.
"Cleveland, this is for you!" James, a native of Akron, Ohio, shouted through tears in a post-game interview with ESPN.
James returned to his hometown team in 2014 after an acrimonious split in 2010. He joined the Miami Heat in the interim, winning two NBA titles for that team.
"I came back for a reason," James said later, with his children around him on the dais. "I came back to bring a championship to our city. I'm coming home with what I said I was going to do."
The Cavaliers dug themselves out of 3-game hole in the best-of-seven series against a powerful team that beat them in the NBA Finals in 2015. No other team has ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to win the NBA championship.
"Everybody counted us out — and that's when we strive the most," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. "That's definitely when I strive the most."
The Cavaliers managed to tie the series 3-to-3 after a 115-101 win at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Thursday 16 June.
The Warriors' best player, 3-pointer king Stephen Curry, faltered in the final game. He missed a pull-up 3-pointer with a minute 14 seconds left in the last game.
"I didn't play efficient. I had some good moments, but didn't do enough to help my team win, especially down the stretch," he said after the game.
"At the end of the day, you congratulate them for accomplishing what they set out to do, and it will be a good image for us over the summer and all next season to remember so that we can come back stronger," Curry said. "That's all you can do."
The last time the city won any major sports victory was 52 years ago when the Cleveland Browns beat the then-Baltimore Colts to win the NFL championship — before there was such a thing as a Super Bowl.
"To Northeast Ohio and Cleveland: The curse is over," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in presenting the trophy. "The 52-year drought has come to an end."
Thousands of revelers packed the streets in Oakland and in downtown Cleveland. Cleveland's Terminal Tower downtown was lit up in the Cavaliers' colors of wine and gold.
"We made history tonight," said coach Lue. "Cleveland, Ohio, we coming back, baby!"