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Giant LeBron James banner to receive championship upgrade

By Tom Withers | Associated Press Published: October 19, 2016 4:00 AM
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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.

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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.


COLUMBUS -- Cleveland's forward trio of LeBron James (18), Kevin Love (15) and Tristan Thompson (14) combined for 47 points in the defending champs' final tune-up game, none of them playing down the stretch as Washington held on for the win at Ohio State's Value City Arena.

Thompson also grabbed 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers.

On the night Cleveland got its starting lineup from Game 7 of last season's NBA Finals together for the first time in this exhibition schedule, now that J.R. Smith has re-signed, point guard Kyrie Irving left in the second quarter with a left calf strain. Irving went scoreless in 10 minutes.

Andrew Nicholson scored 19 points and John Wall added 17 for Washington, which got four free throws from Marcus Thornton in the final 19 seconds. Thornton finished with 16 points.

Playing at Ohio State was, as one would expect, a big deal for James. "We all know that it's always been a special place for me," James said. Back in his high school days, James led St. Vincent-St. Mary to three state championships on the Value City Arena floor. James led the Fighting Irish to Division III state titles as a freshman and sophomore in 2000 and 2001, then to the Division II championship as a senior in 2003. St. Vincent-St. Mary was also crowned the high school boys basketball national champion by USA Today in 2003. ... J.R. Smith shot 1-for-4, finishing with four points. ... Cleveland's preseason is complete, and the Cavaliers (2-4) will host New York on Oct. 25 to open their title defense.

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