Sportress of Blogitude

Unafraid of hyperbole, LeBron proclaims Cavs opener ‘one of biggest sports events ever’

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LeBron James understandably is pretty excited, pumped up, anxious — you name it — about Thursday night’s season-opening game that pits his Cleveland Cavaliers against the New York Knicks.

The game, after all, is at home, inside the friendly confines of Quicken Loans Arena. With all the hype and anticipation that was set in motion over the summer when LeBron announced he was returning to play for the Cavs after a brief sojourn to South Beach, the fans, the team, the town, the region finally can release the pressure valve and joyously erupt into celebration over his homecoming.

Sure, there were chances to whoop it up prior to the upcoming moment, but a regular season game is different. It’s official. It means something. And LeBron clearly recognizes that as well. Perhaps even a bit too much, because James threw caution to the wind and busted out some serious hyperbole to acknowledge the significance of the event.

“For me — none of us — should take this moment for granted. This is probably one of the biggest sporting events up there ever,” James said following Thursday morning’s shootaround, per the New York Post.

Wow. That’s … maybe taking things a bit too far. But let’s allow James some semblance of leeway. It certainly is a big night for him, the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, not to mention the team’s fans.

Given some time, though, it’s fairly certain that most people could come up with one, maybe two other sporting events that rank just a smidgen higher than a Cavaliers-Knicks game in October … even if said game officially consummates LeBron’s return to Cleveland.

But that does not diminish the significance at all to Cleveland. An estimated 100,000 people will be packing the streets of Downtown Cleveland on Thursday night, simply to soak up the electric atmosphere.

The scene may somewhat resemble — albeit not as awe-inspiring — Nike’s fantastic new LeBron spot where Cavs fans pack the streets and chant along with James’ motivational speech to his teammates.

It should be a remarkable evening, to be sure. Throw in the new ginormous banners adorning buildings in Cleveland that will greet the LeBron-ophiles and the makings for a collective Jamesgasm are set in place.

Speaking of the banners, the first one, a Beats by Dre banner, was unveiled last week. And earlier on Thursday, the most-awaited banner that will alert all Clevelanders to LeBron’s gargantuan presence was officially displayed.

Located on the Sherwin-Williams building nearby the arena — the very same place his old banner once hovered over the town — LeBron’s new banner is now unveiled for all eyes to see.

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According to Cleveland.com, the banner is 10 stories tall and 25,000 square feet. It weighs 1.3 tons and 190 gallons of ink was used to print the four-color banner. Impressive.

Perhaps even more impressive are LeBron’s words heading into, while not one of the biggest sports events ever, arguably is one of the biggest moments of the superstar’s professional career.

“I don’t feel it, but I know it is. ‘SportsCenter’ is here. A lot of people are here. ‘SportsCenter’ would never come to Cleveland other than this, so I understand,” James said.

“It is what it is. And I don’t take it for granted. It’s the path that The Man Above has created for me and it’s the journey he wants me to walk on, so I take it in full strength and I take the responsibility of what I need to do on the floor and off the floor as a role model and you just go about it the best way you can.

“I’ve had many thoughts of how it might be,” James added. “How loud it may be, how great it is to be back on this floor. It’s going to be exciting now only when my name is announced, but the rest of the guys on our team just coming out on the floor and getting ready for hopefully a great year.”

Indeed. It is what it is. Regardless of LeBron’s hyperbolic comments, it should be quite the scene in Cleveland.

(image credit: Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer)