LeBron James‘ return to Cleveland in 2014 also brought back to the city one of the artistic hallmarks of his career in the city. Namely, Nike put up another massive banner of James when he came back to the city to play for the Cavaliers.
The banner, which shows James with outstretched arms wearing a jersey with ‘Cleveland’ on the back, essentially covers 10 stories of the Landmark Office Towers across the street from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The banner was unavoidable, a 110-foot tall and 200-foot wide reminder that James had come home.
A similar banner was on the building from 2005 until James left for the Heat. The free agent move meant the end of that banner, and its return added a bit of symbolic ceremony to the occasion. But given that James is off to Los Angeles, it’s only fitting that the banner come down once again. Sherwin-Williams, which owns the building, said on Monday that the Nike-sponsored banner will be taken down soon.
When James left for Miami in 2010, a banner designed by a local artist, George Vlosich III, went up in its place. The city will likely do something similar with the space in the future but, for now, the building will be empty very soon.
On the surface it’s just the end of a clever bit of marketing for Nike, but many in the city identified with the banner, especially that James wore the city’s name on his back rather than his own. That’s clearly not the case anymore, as James is moving to the third team of his career. Whether Nike puts something in its place or another mural is put up isn’t clear, but banner or not, the absence of James in Cleveland will loom large for some time.