‘Everything we do on this floor — it’s because of this city’

LeBron, the team, the community work together on and off the court

The Nike “Together” commercial featuring LeBron James touches the heart of Cleveland Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski every time he sees it.

He gets the chills seeing the fans, the crowd, all raising their fists in the air as LeBron calls for them to shout, “All work! … Together!”

“It really speaks to his values; it just resonates with everybody in Northeast Ohio,” he says.

What Komoroski refers to is quite clear: Perseverance. Positive attitude. Empathy. Leadership. Loyalty.

Komoroski

Komoroski

The latter one, loyalty to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio as a sports star, a family man and an involved citizen, sums up what helps drive LeBron to give it all back.

Rewind the clock to July 2014 when LeBron announced he would return to Cleveland from Miami.

LeBron to his Cavaliers
teammates in ‘Together’:

We’re going to bring it on in. It’s time now. It’s our city. We got to do it for them, dog. We’ve got to do it for Cleveland. They’re waiting on us.

Every single night, every single practice, every single game, we’ve got to give it all we’ve got. ‘Cause they gonna ride with us. Everything that we do on this floor — because of this city. We owe them. We’re gonna grind for this city. They gonna support us man, but we got to give it all back to them. We get it done.

The toughness that we have on the court is going to come from this city. Everybody. The whole city of Cleveland. That’s what it’s all about. It’s time to bring them something special. Let’s go. Bring it on in everybody. Let’s go. Let’s go. ‘All work’ on three. ‘Together’ on six. One, two, three: ‘ALL WORK!’ Four, five, six: ‘TOGETHER!’

Going back to July 11, when LeBron determined he wanted to come back to Northeast Ohio, you can see that with the essay he wrote how this was bigger than basketball,” Komoroski says.

“We are all working here to make this a better place to live, work and play,” Komoroski says. “There is incredible momentum in our community now at every level. We are fortunate enough that we are part of that conversation, and certainly with LeBron, his return has just helped put an exclamation point on that dialogue.”

Almost like a script

In a lot of respects, the recent events in Cleveland are almost like a well-choreographed script — the momentum for revitalization, the decision to bring the Republican National Convention here in 2016 and the return of LeBron. That includes the $19 billion invested in Cleveland over the last several years, more people living and visiting Downtown than ever and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert investing more than $1 billion in Downtown Cleveland.

“If anything, LeBron has been an accelerant to all that,” Komoroski says. “Look at it as an accelerant and exclamation point as opposed to a vacuum where Cleveland has been. We’ve certainly had our trials and tribulations in the past. But there are so many positive signs throughout the community.”

LeBron has supported charities such as After-School All-Stars, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Children’s Defense Fund, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation and ONEXONE.

But his biggest philanthropic efforts are through the LeBron James Family Foundation, which helps teach children to be physically fit, academically focused and environmentally aware.

A role model for role models

Komoroski believes LeBron bases his role model image on what is the correct thing to do.

“It’s on what he feels is right and that he understands he has the ability to create a positive impact, embraces that and acts on it,” he says. “He is out there every day making a positive impact in the community. It is amazing how the sun is a little brighter, the food tastes better, everything just appears to be more vibrant than it would otherwise.”

Komoroski sees how LeBron cares about Northeast Ohio — and about kids.

“What his foundation has done is remarkable,” he says. “LeBron welcomes the role as a role model, which is not always the case among achievers. In his case, he not only welcomes it but he is really redefining it. He’s almost being a role model for role models.

“When you look at Downtown Cleveland, every Cavaliers playoff game per Destination Cleveland estimates creates an economic impact of $3 million to $5 million.

“In addition to that, I have heard people talking from a suburban basis, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to just be living Downtown and be part of that?’”

A legacy beyond sports

LeBron is leaving a legacy, thinking beyond his sports career, Komoroski says.

“You talk about legacy here, that is certainly the case,” he says, “and sort of dovetailing with legacy is sustainability.

“We are in the midst of a rise in our region, which is very solid. It is not smoke and mirrors. It’s not about sleight of hand. It is built on solid fundamentals and as a result, it is feeding upon itself.

“It is building upon itself, creating very sustainable momentum. We went through the comeback city era, which had some momentum and certainly created a buzz in the community, but it didn’t have the holistic components or elements that we see now. We can see how each element, in and of themselves are impactful but when you combine them all together, it is spectacular.”

The Cavs organization feels privileged and honored that it is able to play a role in putting a positive spotlight on Cleveland both nationally and internationally as revitalization efforts continue to play out, Komoroski says.

“It is tangible in terms of economic impact; of bringing people Downtown, giving them a reason to be excited about Downtown; of helping enhance investor confidence; of people watching our games and seeing all the beauty shots in each broadcast where they are showing shots of the Rock Hall and PlayhouseSquare, the skyline and the lake and all of that. Again, LeBron has played a leadership role in creating that impact both on and off the floor.” ●

How to reach: Cleveland Cavaliers, (216) 420-2000 or www.cavs.com