The Cleveland Cavaliers honored team founder Nick Mileti with a 2016 championship ring during the team’s matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday afternoon:
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) November 17, 2019
The Cavs founder was also inducted into the Wall of Honor, and he was quite emotional both during the induction speech and upon receiving the championship ring.
Mileti is a major entrepreneurial figure in the world of Cleveland sports.
He organized and led a group of investors that purchased the rights for the Cavaliers to enter the league as an expansion team in 1970 after buying the former Cleveland Barons hockey team.
Just two years later, he acquired the rights to the Cleveland Indians franchise.
Later in 1972, he created Ohio Communications and acquired the rights to a number of radio stations that would become local franchises that would serve as broadcasters for the Indians and Cavaliers.
Mileti has not been involved in the sporting world since 1994, when he was the principal owner of the Las Vegas Posse of the Canadian Football League.
The 2016 Cavaliers embodied Mileti’s hardworking spirit.
Just one year after losing to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, the Cavs found themselves in a 1-3 hole against a Warriors team that had broken the NBA record for regular season wins behind a superlative MVP season from Stephen Curry.
But facing elimination on the road in Game 5, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each scored 40 points to send the series back to Cleveland, where the Cavs dominated in Game 6.
Cleveland closed the deal with an epic Game 7 that came down to the final minute, capped by a stunning chase-down block from James and a game-winning jumper by Irving.
None of it would have been possible had it not been for Mileti’s ambition nearly 50 years ago.