“I am taking my talents to South Beach”.
And with that, thousands of televisions turned off or perhaps kicked them in. If you are a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, you know exactly who I am talking about: LeBron James. It wasn’t that he LEFT Cleveland. It was HOW he left Cleveland. He turned his free agency into an embarrassing spectacle and left another black eye on Cleveland sports. I was bitter as were thousands of others. And with that, LeBron went on to win two championships with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers turned into a disaster. Since LeBron left in 2010, the Cavaliers went 97-215.
Fast forward to almost 4 years to the day later, LeBron announces in a beautifully penned letter in Sports Illustrated, that he is “Coming Home”. Rumors were rampant that LeBron was coming back to play for the Cavaliers but as anybody knows who has lived in this great city, you must always be cautiously optimistic. In the letter, it was obvious LeBron had matured since he left in 2010 and his heart and soul were still in Northeast Ohio. So much so he still lived in Bath, OH with his family. One of the quotes in his letter that stuck out to me the most was this:
“In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.
I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”
The bitter feelings quickly faded for the majority of Cavaliers fans. What is important to point out is the economic impact LeBron brings to not only the Cleveland Cavaliers but to the downtown bars, restaurants, and hotels for approximately 9 months (assuming the Cavaliers got into the post season). Don’t believe me? Check out these statistics from Sean Gregory of Time.com*:
- Projected increases in both attendance and ticket prices that, in tandem, could account for $129 million in additional revenue for the Cavs
- Appraised upticks in spending locally ($57 million) and throughout Northeast Ohio ($114 million)
- An additional $15 million of economic activity generated by each playoff home game (which Gregory realistically projected to reach $195 million, from 13 home games if the Cavs were to reach the NBA Finals)
As soon as LeBron was on board, other players joined him. In a blockbuster trade, the Cavaliers traded their #1 pick Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a draft pick to acquire three-time All-Star forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Also joining the Cavaliers are four-time All-Star Shawn Marion and LeBron’s former Miami teammates Mike Miller & James Jones. Another piece to the puzzle was to secure current Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving to a long term deal. Irving signed a 5 year, $90 million contract extension on July 10th (coincidentally the same day LeBron announced he was returning to the Cavaliers).
The Cleveland Cavaliers kickoff their 2014/2015 season at home against the New York Knicks on Thursday, October 30th at 8:00. For more information, please check out www.nba.com/cavaliers.