I went to downtown Cleveland on a mission to shoot photos that we use to produce our yearly 12 month Cleveland calendars. For more than 25 years my family has worked with local printers to produce Cleveland posters and calendars. All the way back before the Gund family even owned the Cavaliers, when they played at the Colosseum and had the longest losing streak in NBA history. Things weren’t going well for our area, it was no mystery that it was an easy target for the late show TV circuit. Johnny Carson had a Cleveland joke every week. Cleveland and it’s sports teams had been running gags (or Soap Operas) for years.
What Cleveland lacks in championships or titles we make up for in spirit. The spirit that produces visionaries– men and women that have big bold ideas for the city and the world. People like George Gund II, Micheal White, George Voinovich, Richard E. Jacobs and Dan Gilbert all believed in Cleveland. When times were bad they saw opportunity. Against the odds they believed in the ‘mistake on the lake’.
Belief is the difference between nailing a half court shot and failure. Belief that you can win in spite of impossible odds is what makes champions. Against impossible odds, much like those for a young kid from Akron becoming a 4 time state champion in basketball and being drafted in the NBA. LeBron James believes that he is the best player in the world and that is part of the reason he is a champion.
On that night in Cleveland you could feel the energy in the air. It was as if someone turned on a magnet downtown by the Quicken Loan’s Arena that attracted people. People from all walks of life and age groups were there. Every dramatic play made resulted in hearing the entire city roar with excitement. And Cleveland’s 4th Street was alive. When the warriors made a shot the city was deafly quiet.
On that night the Cavalier’s lost. Afterward in an interview, I’ll never forget what LeBron James said:
“I feel confident [despite being down 3-2 in the series] because I’m the best player in the world.”
LeBron believes in Cleveland and came back to play for the Cavaliers. We need to believe that we have a championship team and a championship city. If the Cavaliers win the NBA finals they’ll be the first team to do it from a deficit. In order for it to happen, we all need to believe.