By Tom Withers | Associated Press
CLEVELAND — The colossal LeBron James banner soaring over downtown is getting a small — but significant — upgrade.
The iconic, 10-stories-tall mural is being removed this week and replaced with a new one that includes a gold patch of the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the back of James’ uniform to represent the Cavaliers winning the NBA title last season, ending Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought.
The new banner is expected to be installed by Friday. The Cavs open their season against the New York Knicks on Oct. 25, when the players will receive their championship rings and a title banner will be unveiled in the rafters of Quicken Loans Arena.
James’ likeness towers over the city, and the black-and-white image of the superstar, his muscular arms outstretched, has become a tourist stop and symbol of civic pride.
Sherwin-Williams considered temporarily removing the giant James banner this summer during the Republican National Convention but changed its mind after a public backlash. The company ended up making a $150,000 donation to the LeBron James Family Foundation.
An original banner of James was taken down after he signed with the Miami Heat in 2010. The new one was installed in October 2014, a few months after the three-time champion re-signed with Cleveland.
The golden upgrade comes as the Indians, who play at Progressive Field next door to the Cavs’ arena, are leading the AL Championship Series 2-0 over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Indians are trying to end a World Series drought dating to 1948.