As the Cleveland Cavaliers are flourishing on the court in search of their first-ever NBA championship, the team is making strides off the floor, too. The Cavs announced a partnership with UP&GO on Monday, an Australian-based breakfast drink.
On Jan. 25, Cleveland will host its inaugural “Australia Day Game” sponsored by UP&GO against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Significantly, the Cavs boast two Australians in their rotation. Matthew Dellavedova, who rose to prominence in last year’s playoffs, is originally from Maryborough, and Kyrie Irving, the 2014 All-Star Game MVP, was born in Melbourne and holds dual citizenship in Australia and the United States.
“As the Cavaliers popularity continues to grow, the Cavaliers are proud to be establishing these types of partnerships,” said Cavs CEO Len Komoroski in the team’s press release. “From Cleveland to Australia, we are thrilled to dedicate a game to a country with a fan base that loves Cavs basketball.”
The deal will also feature digital content on Cavs.com, including the “UP&GO Cavaliers Breakfast Show,” a 20-minute pregame live stream, and product branding on Quicken Loans Arena’s LED boards.
The game will be airing live on ESPN in Australia the morning of Jan. 26 – the country’s National Day – due to the 16-hour time difference. Cleveland players will be donning their gold jerseys to honor the colors of Australia, and the country’s national anthem will be played prior to tip-off.
This partnership is just the latest example of the NBA’s intention to grow globally. The league plays regular-season and preseason games in London, Mexico City, Shanghai and elsewhere, with 13 offices around the world.
The Cavs, one of the league’s most popular franchises with the world’s best player in LeBron James, in addition to Dellavedova and Irving, have an opportunity to expand their following and make a meaningful connection with new fans.
The NBA, already receiving a lot of attention in Australia, features a number of Aussies, including 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Bogut, a starter for the defending champion Golden State Warriors; Patty Mills, a guard for the San Antonio Spurs who won a championship with the team in 2014; and Dante Exum, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2014 draft by the Utah Jazz, among others.
The Cavs are predictably making noise in the Eastern Conference toward another playoff run this year. With an exciting team and a diverse background of players, the organization is taking advantage of the opportunities away from the floor, too.
Follow Matthew Hochberg on Twitter @MatthewHochberg.