Cleveland Triumphs. Win or lose – LeBron James has already done the impossible.
I want LeBron James to be a Billionaire.
Yes, I want Cleveland to have a Championship. But before we even made it to the Finals, LeBron James had already made every Clevelander a winner.
We have spent the past decade building a better city, but it’s LeBron who marketed it for us. He helped to create a new national conversation about our city and we are all feeling the benefit.
The benefits to having LeBron and the rest of the Big Three mentioned is larger than probably any of us imagined when the Sports Illustrated “I’m Coming Home” article came out.
Sure, when LeBron came back home it automatically put us in contention for the title. More importantly, it lifted the national conversation about the city of Cleveland to be what we’ve always wanted to be.
From “Mistake on the Lake” to “City on the Rise” – that’s dramatic, that’s inspiring, that’s a story worth spreading.
When LeBron James, Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love are mentioned, whether in the news or through one of their million (or billion) dollar endorsement deals, Cleveland benefits. The world loves a comeback story and the Cavs have personified that for us. They have put a face and a focus to our image and demonstrated the unique grit, determination and togetherness (Nike) of our people. From “mistake on the lake” to “city on the rise”, that’s a classic rags to riches story. Now more than ever Americans are hungry for comeback stories
This “Rise Up” spirit is exactly what brands want. It’s honest, it’s exciting and it’s something the general consumer can relate to. Turn your TV on during primetime and you have the chance to see at least one of the many endorsements from our Big Three:
LBJ + Kia. (Kia is an underdog brand)
Kyrie + Verizon. (Verizon is the people’s champion)
K. Love + State Farm Insurance. (Also a peoples champion brand)
Kyrie & LBJ + Nike. (Personal achievement brand)
The Big Three are associated with the city of Cleveland, progress and improvements. When LBJ came home, the RNC finalized their decision to come to Cleveland – they, too, understood the importance of having the NBA superstar returning to his hometown. LeBron’s return home has provided long-term improvements to the city. And not just outside of the Q. It’s made an economic impact. All one has to do is walk down East Fourth Street the night of an NBA Finals game, look at the small business owners who have been directly impacted by this team and marvel. The Cleveland Clothing Company, The Greenhouse Tavern, Barrio, etc., business has never been better. And they’ve become an important part of an important time in Cleveland history.
And LBJ’s marriage to Nike? The billion dollar one?
Well that improves this city just as much as anything else he is doing. The endorsement deals are economic engines for the city and for the region. LeBron’s deal impacts all of us – Cleveland and Akron foundations and entrepreneurs who want to stay here and see the city continue to grow. And Nike, well, of course they get it as they most often do. They’ve seen LeBron in action. They saw “The Decision” and the greater impact of “The Return”. They not only understand the value of having the world’s best basketball player wearing their shoes and apparel, they also know the value of his character and his commitment to youth in Akron, Ohio. Did you notice during the Toronto Raptors series how LeBron walks away from any fights or chippy plays? He knows what is riding on his presence – on the court and off. I’m certain that there are stipulations to the Billion Dollar Deal, but it’s a lifelong relationship that will benefit both parties.
When little LeBron was playing basketball in Akron, Ohio, with Maverick Carter and the rest of the Four Horsemen, he probably never dreamed that he would be able to change the perception of an entire region – to the entire world.
And his storybook ending isn’t done yet. He’s #ALLin216 and so are we!
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