A Part Of The Team

May 16, 1994 was my first day with the Cleveland Cavaliers organization.  I started my job in Marketing at the old Richfield Coliseum while a brand new arena was being built downtown where the team moved two months later.  It was such an exciting time.  This would be the first time NBA basketball would be played in the city of Cleveland since 1974 and I was going to be a part of history – I was never happier – but by the end of that first season, I was never more tired.

I knew I wanted to work in sports since I was 12 years old.  What I didn’t know was how hard I was expected to work. Crazy, insane hours not known to the “normal” world were par for the course.  Work a game until 10:30pm at night and you’re expected to be in the office by 9am the next day.  I thought to myself, “I don’t know if I can do this more than one year.”  Who in their right mind can do this night in and night out?  I was thinking about looking for another job, but I decided to stick it out another year…

And now, 22 years and 33 days later, I am part of an NBA Championship Team!

June 19, 2016 is a day that will forever be etched in my mind.  Not only was it the day that the Cavs won their first NBA Championship — it was a day that ended the dreaded Cleveland sports drought that we have been hearing about for decades.  I was born in 1965 and the last championship in the city of Cleveland took place in 1964.  Talk about a cruel twist of fate.  I have bled brown and orange, blue and red and wine and gold since I was a kid, and I have cried more tears over these teams than I have for any person.  The game this past Sunday changed everything.

I cried like a baby. But this time, they were the good kind of tears (that I had never experienced before). They were championship tears.  Tears for a team that I am so proud to be a part of!

I realized Sunday night why I continued to work in sports.  Working for a team that is your team, the team you love, the team you grow up with, is a feeling like no other.  You live and die with your team over the course of the season and if you’re lucky enough to make the playoffs, you live and die with every play, every basket and every foul.  You put your heart and soul into your job because you are part of the team.  You want a championship as much as the players and sometimes you feel like you want it even more, so you work just a little bit harder.

It’s not easy and it’s certainly not glamorous. By the end of it all, you feel like you played in every single game.   But man, it’s worth it when your team, the team you are a part of, wins a championship on the last day of the playoffs – in Game 7! And in a game that goes down to the wire. But what else did we expect? This is CLEVELAND – it’s not supposed to be easy. But let me tell you something – I wouldn’t trade this town, my team and our community for any other city in the world.

My lifelong dream has been realized. I can sleep soundly for a bit – and wake up with a smile on my face. I just hope I don’t have to wait another 52 years to cry those championship tears again!

 

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Chris Lesko

Chris Lesko has parlayed her passion for sports into a career working for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena for 20+ years! Chris has worked on some of the biggest sporting events to come to Cleveland including the 2015 NBA Finals, the 2015 Men's NCAA Sweet 16 as well of hundreds of concerts. Chris and her husband Pete have raised their four children and are contemplating what their lives will be like as empty nesters. Chris is an avid fan of all Cleveland teams , the Ohio State Buckeyes and is an active volunteer with the APL and is a part of the Downtown Cleveland Advocate program. Chris and family reside in Westlake, OH.

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