CLEVELAND – He wears his journalist hat every day as one of ESPN’s most-connected and informed NBA reporters, but you’ll need to forgive Chris Broussard if he’s quietly proud of this city and region as the Cleveland Cavaliers pursue a long-awaited title.
Broussard’s Cleveland connections:
• Moved to North Royalton, a western suburb of Cleveland in 1985 from Des Moines, Iowa when his dad, a personnel manager for Travelers Insurance Company, was transferred there.
• Attended Holy Name High School (graduated in 1986), starting on both varsity football and basketball teams, helping it reach the state playoffs in football as a wide receiver, and helping it finish as District runner-up (the furthest Holy Name had gone since 1972) in basketball. . . Played in the Greater Cleveland All-Star Basketball Game at Cleveland State in 1986 and attended nearby Oberlin College (majoring in English while a member of basketball team) and met his wife at the school.
• Graduated from Oberlin in 1990 and took first job was at The Cleveland Plain Dealer as a part-time high school reporter for four years (covering St. Vincent-St. Mary, LeBron James’ alma mater). “That was long before he played there though,” Broussard said. . . Went to the Akron Beacon-Journal full-time and “got my big break in the business when I was promoted from covering high school sports to being the Cleveland Cavaliers’ beat writer. In preparation for covering professional sports, I served as the backup beat writer on the Cleveland Indians during their march to the World Series in 1995.”
“When I covered the Cavaliers, their ‘Big 3’ was Terrell Brandon, Chris Mills and Bobby Phills. And the coach was Mike Fratello. After we got married in 1995 (in New York), we lived in Maple Heights, an eastern suburb of Cleveland, and our twin daughters were born at The Cleveland Clinic in March of 1998. In August of 1998, I moved my family to New Jersey because I got a job at The New York Times.”
• Lived in northeast Ohio from 1985 to 1998. “The longest time I had lived in one area until I moved to New Jersey, where I’ve been the past 17 years.”
• Parents still live in Cleveland (North Royalton), splitting time in Baton Rouge, La. during winter months. “When the Cavaliers won the NBA draft lottery in 2003 for the right to draft LeBron James, my parents (still living in Cleveland full-time) went out and bought season tickets the next day,” Broussard said. “That was special to me because it gave them a hobby to share and brought added fun and excitement to their relationship. They both worked downtown so they would just stay down there on game days. My parents, Ed and Cheryl Broussard, will be married 50 years this October. They were huge LeBron fans and a thrill for me was introducing my mom to LeBron while I was doing a feature story on him for ESPN The Magazine in 2006. She got to take a picture with him and she framed it and put it on the mantle in their family room.
“After LeBron left for Miami in 2010, my father tore down the LeBron Fathead they had posted on the wall of their sun room,” he said. “He also told my mom that she’d have to move the picture of her and LeBron from the family room. She did not turn on LeBron like my dad did so she told him, ‘If I move it from the family room, it’s going in the bedroom.’ The picture stayed in the family room. My dad returned to being a LeBron fan while he was in Miami, and now they’re excited to have him and back in Cleveland, though they did not repurchase the season tickets they gave up when he left in 2010.”
– Chris Broussard
Broussard’s Cavs connections:
“I was not a Cavs fan growing up, but when I moved to Cleveland, I began paying some attention to them. The first Cavs game I went to was my junior year of high school and the Cavs, led by World B. Free, were hosting rookie Michael Jordan and the Bulls at Richfield Coliseum.
“My brother, a friend, and I went to the area where the players left after the game to try to get Jordan’s sneakers but to no avail, although we did get close enough to the fray to hear a woman offer to buy Jordan breakfast! After graduating from high school, I worked as a staffer at Ron Harper’s Basketball Camp in suburban Cleveland the summer of 1986 and became more of a Cavs fan when Harper, Mark Price, Brad Daugherty [now an ESPN NBA and motorsports analyst] and Larry Nance made the Cavs a contender. Alongside posters of Jordan, James Worthy, [“Purple Rain” actress] Apollonia Kotero and R&B singer Karyn White in my college dorm room was a poster of Harper titled “The Ohio Flyer.”
What Broussard thinks this run means to Cleveland:
“For Clevelanders, this run (beginning with LeBron’s return in June), has been beyond comprehension. His return has helped revitalize the city economically (you can tell that by all the new restaurants and hotels downtown), and having the Cavs return to title contention has given them hope that the 51-year pro title drought will finally end.
“There’s long been talk of the city being cursed from a sports perspective, but now Cleveland sports fans feel blessed. I know several Clevelanders who absolutely hated LeBron when he left, vowing never to be a fan of his again, who now cheer from him as much as ever since he’s returned.
“This title would not only be the greatest individual march to the championship in NBA history for LeBron James, but it would arguably be the most meaningful for a city that the league has ever seen.”