On Monday evening, the Cleveland Charge, the NBA G League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers, hosted a special, free basketball clinic for Cleveland area youth at the King Kennedy Club, a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. The clinic was led by Cavs Academy Coaches and volunteers from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio. From the time Right Down Euclid was able to sit in on the festivities, the Cavs Academy Coaches and volunteers were able to practice and teach the fundamentals of the game all while maintaining an overwhelmingly positive, team-first attitude.
At the end of the clinic, Charge players and team mascot Pozzie arrived to sign autographs, shoot hoops with the kids that participated as well as take photos. Meals were provided courtesy of Georgio’s Pizza for all participants. The Charge players that stopped by were Sam Merrill, Nate Hinton, Rashad Vaughn, Gabe Osabuohien and Jarmarko Pickett. Charge head coach Mike Gerrity, assistant coach and team scout Daniel “Booby” Gibson and general manager Brendon Yu were there as well. Each child also received a gift bag from the Charge filled with promo items as well as a voucher for four free tickets to when Cleveland hosts the Ontario Clippers, the NBA G League affiliate of the Los Angeles Clippers, on March 11.
Even though the clinic itself was a spectacular event for the children that call Cleveland home, there was something even more special planned. City of Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, who just completed his first year in office, stopped by to speak with the children participating in the clinic and put up some shots with them as well. Appearances like these are somewhat common for Bibb during the early beginnings of his term. Bibb is an advocate for investing in the future of the greater-Cleveland community and is also a huge fan of basketball as well.
So, when he took office, Bibb began collaborating with organizations like the Cavalier and the Charge in order to help create safer communities and using the game of basketball as a conduit to ensure it’s long-lasting. He shared with the media during the ongoing festivities on Tuesday night that he spent countless hours on the court of recreation centers just like the one at the King Kennedy Club. Bibb expressed that if he’s able to give back to these children, hopefully, in turn, they’ll grow up to be in a position similar to his one day. Obviously, the game of basketball alone isn’t going to do that. Bibb stressed that as much when speaking to the children that maintaining good grades and listening to their parents are also key. But, again, if this is a launchpad to greater things for these children, it can lead to greater things in Bibb’s eyes.
To coincide with Bibb stopping by, the Charge unveiled something that has been in the works for quite a while. During NBA All-Star 2022 last winter, Cleveland was the host of the premiere basketball event. To kick things off, there’s the annual celebrity game where Bibb participated, donning no. 58 in honor of being the City of Cleveland’s 58th mayor. With that image of Bibb in All-Star gear in mind, Cavaliers CEO Nic Barlage approached Bibb’s office about having Cleveland’s mayor become a keepsake for fans.
Dubbed the Bibblehead by the organization, Bibb will be featured as a bobblehead and given away to the first 1,500 fans that attend the Charge’s matchup with the Clippers in mid-March. Typically, bobbleheads that are handed out at games are almost always players — not politicians. But, with Bibb’s love of the game of basketball and even greater love for the City of Cleveland, it felt like this next step in the collaboration between Bibb, the Cavaliers and the Charge seemed like a no-brainer at the end of the day.
“I had no idea this would ever be in the cards for me,” joked Bibb to Right Down Euclid on Monday evening. “It’s kind of a cool thing to see. I was kind of shocked and surprised since I didn’t think I had the best celebrity All-Star game performance. I think maybe that first assist I had made it worthwhile!”
Bibb went on to share that the proceeds from the game between the Charge and the Clippers will go back to the community as well by further investing in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. He stressed that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland do so much to keep Cleveland’s children safe and give them opportunities for their futures as well.
Basketball is a game for everyone and can be a conduit of change for good. That’s clear when Bibb, along with the Cavaliers and the Charge, want to keep working to make life better for future generations all throughout the greater-Cleveland community. It can be through being a community asset and investing financially in upkeeping locations like the King Kennedy Club or as simple as spending time with children and playing some pickup hoops. It’s always going to be bigger than basketball but, for moments like these, it can make things even more special when everyone gets together on the hardwood.
Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at [email protected] He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.
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