By Paige McConney
Paige McConney

LeBron James changed my life.

Every year during the NBA playoffs, he takes a break from social media to 100% focus on the game with the aim of taking home another championship. His social media blackout has been officially coined “Zero Dark 30” and rather than tweet, he posts an image with the hashtag #StriveForGreatness.

Well…much to my total surprise, during the 2017 playoffs, he chose my work to grace his page the entire playoffs.

MKTG’s Elliot Gerard and John “Graph” Boyce’s piece chosen by LeBron during the 2017 NBA Finals

Right then and there, I knew that my life was about to change and I had to seize the moment and truly Strive or Greatness. And just like LeBron does, I would give every ounce of myself to make sure I could do so.

I was already somewhat established as an artist in the sports industry working with teams like the Knicks and media brands like ESPN. I knew I could do more though.

This was an opportunity to take the ball and run with it.

I reached out to organizations like Sports Illustrated, Turner Sports and most importantly The Cleveland Cavaliers and to see if they could be a part of this journey. There were many people that told me they were not interested or did not respond. But every time I would look at LeBron’s post, it fueled me to continue to strive for greatness.

The Cavaliers were the first to get back to me. After talking with their lead art director, Kevin Johnson on the phone, we were already coming up with the idea of creating a mural that helped recapture the energy of my image that LeBron had chosen.

I had created the original image in collaboration with a talented artist John “Graph” Boyce, so I made sure that he was a part of any project centered around the Zero Dark 30. Keeping the authenticity of the original piece in all artwork we created together for this campaign was key.

While each playoff round went by, the more nervous I got. However, as the Cavaliers looked more and more likely to reach their straight third trip to the Finals, and LeBron’s historic 7th straight trip, things started to come into place. With no budget for a PR team, I spent many late nights reaching out and finding ways to get interviews with podcasts, publications and blogs. Then slowly, we started booking projects for media outlets like FanSided and Bleacher Report, creating artwork celebrating LeBron’s historic run to the finals.

The major turning point came when the Cavaliers called me after winning Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals with the final approval on the project. We were asked to create a mural coined “Defend the Land” of the entire Cavaliers team interacting with the cityscape and literally defending the city of Cleveland. This larger-than-life piece would be displayed outside of The Q Arena (and in front of the entrance to the Cavaliers’ Fan Fast) for games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals.

I honestly couldn’t …read more

Via:: MKTG Blog