INDEPENDENCE (92.3 the Fan) – The Cleveland Cavaliers are still working on building the culture within their locker room and how it manifests itself on the court. To the men involved in that process, it is not the most important thing about their position in life.
The Cavs hosted 40 teenagers from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland on Wednesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts, holding a town hall discussion with players Jordan Clarkson, George Hill and Larry Nance Jr. as a part of their Black Heritage Celebration.
Head coach Tyronn Lue also joined Cavs Legends Austin Carr, Campy Russell, Jim Chones and Larry Nance Sr. in the discussion.
The children went through a set of calisthenics with Cavs youth coaches before splitting up into groups led by the day’s guests. After watching film clips from the Pursuit of Happyness, Hidden Figures, Remember the Titans and Freedom Writers, the groups discussed the topics each clip outlined. Those topics spanned across levels of setting goals and being leaders to others.
Lue shared with the Club members his favorite story of his own triumph.
“Growing up in Mexico, Missouri, my mom never had a car her whole life,” he said. “So my goal as a kid, and I shared with them, was to get my mom a car. When I got drafted in 1998, and to give my mom her first truck, for her to cry the way she did, for me to cry the way I did, and to get her a house, it was just an unbelievable feeling for me.”
The NBA Champion as both a player and head coach grew up in a city of just over 11,000 people, and told stories of all that held him back. How he was not supposed to make it.
That sentiment was echoed by Clarkson, who said he makes it a point to show children that they can outperform others’ expectations.
“Big thing to me always that I preach is doing what people telling you that you can’t do,” the 25-year-old said. “I feel like every time I talk to some kids, that’s the only thing I really preach to them. Where I’m from, people always told me I couldn’t do something, and that’s what drives me today. I try to stress that to them because they probably have someone telling them they can’t be something.”
Carr and Hill spoke passionately about their experiences, persevering through injury and circumstance. Clarkson wanted the experience to be authentic, trying his best to relate to the teens in attendance.
“They can actually hear what we’ve been through and they can relate to us because a lot of us came from these Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs when we was younger. That’s including myself, I was in the Boys and Girls Club,” Clarkson told reporters. “They see us on the TV, but being able to hear what we think about, hear what we’ve been through and stuff like that. I feel like they don’t just see us as characters, like we’re fake characters on the TV.”
“Hoops has nothing to do with real life,” Lue added. “Basketball is just a part of what we do, it’s not our life or who we are as people. Basketball is just our profession, but we are human beings and a lot of us come from the same places that a lot of these kids come from.”