Seemingly all of Cleveland anxiously huddled around televisions on Thursday, Oct. 30 in anxious anticipation to witness the return of Cavs player LeBron James.
Donning the Cavs uniform for a second time, James had quite the hyped homecoming.
Over 20,000 fans filled seats in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, including a few celebrities such as Usher, Michael Strahan, Kevin Hart and David Beckham. The crowd waited for James to make his season debut against the New York Knicks.
After playing for the Miami Heat for the past four years, James returned to his roots in Northeast Ohio in hopes of bringing a championship to the city.
Even though the Cavs lost to the Knicks, that didn’t ruin the spirits of dedicated fans.
As important as it was for fans to witness James’ return, James also knew how crucial this moment was.
“I just tried to stay focused and maintain,” said James, according to USAToday.com. “Obviously, it was a special night.” James admitted that due to the hype revolving around the game, it made it difficult to play without getting distracted.
The city pulled out all the stops to welcome James home. This included a new 10-story-high banner of James decorating the downtown Sherwin-Williams building.
In honor of James’ return to the Cavaliers, Nike teamed up with the sports legend to launch a new commercial titled “Together.”
The advertisement, filmed in black and white, showcases the heart of the city with exterior shots of the Q, Terminal Tower and East 4th Street. The commercial begins as James huddles together with his teammates in an attempt to unite the city of Cleveland.
“It’s our city. We gotta do it for them. We gotta do it for Cleveland,” James says encouragingly to his teammates. The commercial goes on to show the people of Cleveland, linked shoulder-to-shoulder, coming together as one city.
As the crowds chant “together” and raise fists in the air as a symbol of unity, James counts, “1, 2, 3.” The entire city responds in unison, “Cleveland.”
According to Cleveland.com, Ruth Wine of Akron, one of the extras for the commercial, said, “The arms on the shoulders and the swaying and repeating ‘Hard work, together’ was electric.”
The commercial also featured several other Cavaliers including Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Shawn Marion and Tristan Thompson in addition to James’ mother, Gloria, and high school coach, Dru Joyce.
According to Cleveland.com, the commercial “is a love letter to the city’s resilience and a massive group hug for a populace embracing the determination of its hero returning after four years of self-imposed exile.”
The commercial was directed by Brandon and Emmett Malloy, who commented that the goal for the commercial was to “preserve reality really well” and for it to “feel genuine and real.”
Nike communications manager Lisa Beachy said, “This commercial is about a community going to work and uniting for one goal.” The impact of “the King” is expected to be long-lasting for Cleveland. If this is the case, the unity will last as well.
Editor’s Note: Information from Business Insider, Cleveland.com, Fox Business, The Washington Post and USA Today was used in this article.