SAN ANTONIO — You crave the recipe of his secret sauce. You believe you’ve identified some of its special ingredients: draft foreign players, shoot corner 3s, emphasize defense, share the ball, victimize trembling sideline reporters.
You’d like to believe you’ve captured the essence of the bearded coach stomping along the sideline — a blend of Midas, Yoda and occasionally a teeth-baring pit bull.
“It was always sad, but these were business decisions by guys that owned the team,” Walton said. “Don’t ever hold that against the fans or the players. These are business decisions out of their hands.”
Walton, 63, still calls San Diego home and says there’s no place he would rather live.
“San Diego is the greatest place in the history of the world, and there’s nothing that could happen in my life that would lead me to leave San Diego,” he said. “I wish the NBA were still here, but that’s just something I’m going to have to live with.”
James as executive producer means many things (more publicity, for sure) and it also gives all the businesses featured on the show a bit of that championship glow. When he returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 after four years with the Miami Heat, some experts predicted James would be worth $500 million to Cleveland’s economy. While that number has proven to be more pipe dream than reality, James’s presence in Cleveland has tangibly boosted business in the ‘Land, and some businesses closer to the Quicken Loans Arena have reported a 200 percent increase in sales since James’ return.
Cleveland needed that help — and needs more. Earlier this year, a study focused on the most distressed communities in the country (from 2009 to 2013) was released and Cleveland came in as the second most distressed city in the United States. Only Camden, New Jersey, topped Cleveland, placing the now NBA championship city “ahead” of others such as Flint, Michigan, and Gary, Indiana.
The premise of James’ new show is all about helping to jump-start Cleveland’s economy: Four local businesses will get $200,000 each from investors to create a pop-up store in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District. The area, which the local press says isn’t just about gentrification, is a “nationally recognized model of how the arts can catalyze economic development and job creation.” Hundreds of Cleveland business owners originally pitched the show’s investors about creating pop-ups. That list was cut down to 25, and then to eight. The four investors each select two businesses to work with before eliminating one at the end of the show, giving viewers a final four.