The LeBron James banner located across Quicken Loans Arena is coming down right now, less than 48 hours after James announced his departure from Cleveland for a second time.
The banner, which depicts James with his arms spread and “Cleveland” imprinted on the back of his number 23 Cavaliers jersey, has been a beacon in downtown Cleveland since James returned to Cleveland in 2014.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Banner Is Owned by Nike & Located at Sherwin-Williams’ Global Headquarters
Given the gracious nature of Dan Gilbert’s statement on James’ departure — in stark contrast to Gilbert’s infamous letter following James’ first exit from Cleveland — some may be surprised to see the banner come down so quickly. However, the Cavaliers organization has no say in it. Nike, James’ lucrative sponsor, commissioned the banner in 2014 after James decided to return to the Cavaliers. The 1.3 ton, 10-story banner is located across from Quicken Loans Arena.
Shortly after James announced he would sign a four-year max contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, Nike revealed the banner would come down this week.
In a statement Monday, Sherwin-Williams said it’s “evaluating other options” for the space.
2. This Is the Second Time a LeBron James Banner has Come Down in Cleveland
Just as LeBron James has left Cleveland twice, the banner will leave Cleveland twice. A previous iteration of the mural was seen across Quicken Loans Arena during James’ first stint with the Cavs. The first banner depicted James facing forward with the slogan “WE ARE ALL WITNESSES” emblazoned above his head next to the Nike swoosh. It was removed in 2010, shortly after James left Cleveland for Miami.
Cleveland fans were likely much more disgruntled in the wake of the first banner falling than this time around, as James broke the 52-year championship drought in Cleveland during his second run with the Cavs.
It took Sherwin-Williams more than three months to replace the first banner with a mural of landmark Cleveland buildings.
3. You Can Watch the Removal of the Second Banner Now
As of writing, WKYC is streaming the removal of the banner, which is expected to take multiple days to take down.
The upper righthand corner is already waving in the wind, as a group of workers continue to unlatch it from the building.
4. James Posed With the Banner During the 2016 Championship Parade
After James delivered his promise to Cleveland, he created one of the most memorable images in Cleveland sports history during the Cavs’ 2016 championship parade. As his car rolled slowly through downtown Cleveland in front of the mural, James held his hands up, mimicking his depiction on the mural. The mural was temporarily modified to read “Champions” at night.
Sherwin-Williams co-sponsored the championship parade and donated $150,000 to The LeBron James Family Foundation at the time.
5. A Separate Banner Will Remain Up in James’ Hometown of Akron, Ohio
Although the prominent banner in Cleveland is soon-to-be gone forever, a separate, smaller banner in Akron will remain. The “I’m Home” banner shows James holding the Larry O’Brien trophy.
It’s not surprising that the city of Akron plans on keeping the “I’m Home” banner despite the fact that James will now permanently reside on the other side of the country. James has dedicated much of his off-the-court work to helping kids in Akron. James’ organization, The LeBron James Family Foundation, allocated $41.8 million to send 1,100 Akron-area kids to college. The foundation’s school, The I Promise School, is set to open in August in Akron as well.
Source: Heavy Sports