By Sean Wyatt
It finally happened. After decades of close calls, “rebuilding,” futility, and everything in between, sports fans in Northeast Ohio finally knew the feeling of what it was like to be winners. Not just the feeling of having a good season, but the feeling of having “the” season; the one that generations had been waiting for; the moment that they finally would know the feeling of being a championship city.
After the Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to become World Champions, the city of Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio knew what it felt like to finally be on top of the sports world. The celebration didn’t stop after the downtown Cleveland parade that seemingly saw the entire state of Ohio packed in from East 9th and surrounding to blanket the city. You can’t walk around town in your daily life in the days since without seeing teachers, dentists, blue collar workers or even your pizza delivery person adorning some type of Wine and Gold.
While the confetti and banners have been swept up and put away since late June, the pride and excitement of area fans continues to beam well into the start of fall. The offseason that never really was came and went in the blink of an eye, with the players hitting the court again to begin their title defense. Fans from The Land and beyond will pack The Q all year long, but the 20,562 seats in the building aren’t enough to satisfy the hordes of area fans hungry for more.
Enter the Canton Charge, the NBA Development League franchise powered by the Cavaliers who play their own brand of championship caliber basketball an hour south down Route 77. The NBA D-League is the official minor league of the NBA and acts as a training ground for coaches, players, and front office staff shaping their own paths to glory. NBA stars of tomorrow, who have their own aspirations of glory and ticker tape parades, use the Charge to hone their skills and ready themselves for the biggest basketball stage. Like Big Brother up north, the Charge have enjoyed massive success as of late, being the only NBA D-League franchise to qualify for the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. That’s every year the Charge have played since coming to Canton in 2011.
The success starts with quality people in place. Canton has had 13 player and 10 coach “call ups” to the NBA. Other franchises have taken notice of the regular success the Charge have, with clubs assigning rookies and young talent in need of valuable game minutes to Canton to get work in a proven, successful system that produces results. Those results include last year’s campaign that saw a franchise record for wins tied and a second consecutive trip to the Conference Finals.
The wins aren’t just limited to the court. The Charge are also like the Cavs when it comes to putting on a show for the fans on game night. T-shirts fly into the stands during timeouts, dance teams strut their stuff, wacky games for fun prizes take place on the court, and thumping music throughout are some of the familiar elements of The Q present at Charge games. The resulting atmosphere offers something for everyone regardless of being a diehard hoops fan or not.
And the celebration of being champions will carry on through the winter in Canton as well. With giveaways such as a Cavs mini championship banner and Cavs championship fleece blanket will be in fans hands during Charge games this year. With the annual Cavs Night and other Wine and Gold promotions such as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love bobbleheads, it’s easy to be reminded how close Canton & Cleveland really are.
Things get started on the court in Canton for the Home Opener on Saturday, November 12th at 7:00 p.m. The festivities will start early that morning with the Second Annual Charge 5K Race. Last year’s course will be taken up a notch with a new path throughout historic Canton that finishes courtside for a post-race reception, unique finisher’s medal, tech fit race shirt, and a ticket to that night’s game.
Fans don’t need a great promotion as an excuse to come to a Charge game, with tickets starting out cheaper than a trip to the movies. For all the promotions, activities, family fun – and not to mention fantastic quality hoops – the value of a Charge ticket extends long past just getting you in the door. Groups of all kinds can also come out to a game and perform for the crowd, get a chance to high-five the players as they hit the court, meet the team for postgame autographs, play a game at halftime, and much more.
With the Cavaliers looking to go back-to-back this season and give area fans more of the same excellence we now know and crave, the Charge in Canton will continue to feed off of that success and energy and deliver more of the same to Northeast Ohio.
Canton Charge Season 6