Cleveland Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski Shares Journey To Team’s Success

Aug 10, 2016; Cleveland Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski was the featured guest as a part of Chat Sports' series Minds Behind The Game. The event was hosted in Cleveland, OH. Photo taken by Aaron Ferguson
Aug 10, 2016; Cleveland Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski was the featured guest as a part of Chat Sports' series Minds Behind The Game. The event was hosted in Cleveland, OH. Photo taken by Aaron Ferguson /

The Cleveland Cavaliers are champions, but it hasn’t always been that way. Cavs CEO Len Komoroski shares his journey to building the Cavs into such a successful organization.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were perennial cellar dwellers when CEO Len Komoroski entered the equation in March 2003, but now they are the defending NBA Champions. He offered insight as to what it took to get to this point from his past experiences and developing Cleveland, all to help build the Cavaliers’ brand.

Komoroski was speaking Wednesday at the Minds Behind The Game event hosted by Chat Sports in Cleveland, OH. Chat Sports is the developer of an app that integrates sports news and scores with social networking and sharing and invited King James Gosepl to the event.

Komoroski is a Pittsburgh native that is completely engulfed in building Cleveland up to improve it’s reputation by improving the experiences they have. He has been successful in doing that in several ways.

The Cavs’ CEO wears many different hats, having his hand in 12 entities in the Cleveland area. One thing is clear: out of all the hats that Komoroski wears, the Cavaliers are at the epicenter of this city.

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Komoroski got his start in sports interning for the Pittsburgh Pirates and, in turn, would have his hand in all of Pittsburgh’s professional sports teams.

He left Pittsburgh to work for the Minnesota Strikers, a now-defunct indoor soccer team. It was a pivotal point in his career that allows him to enjoy the success of today. He credits the theatrics of indoor soccer to his success in leading an expansion team like the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"“Indoor soccer back then, in the 80s, was a sport that featured lights-out introductions, lasers, smoke, pyrotechnics, mascots, dance team all that stuff,” Komoroski said. “We’re in Minnesota and we’ve got guys coming from indoor soccer. So what are we doing? We’ve got lights-out intros, smoke and all that. And the league is going ‘what the heck are you guys doing?’ At one point, they were coming down on us because of the ‘integrity of the game.’ Of course, now it’s become prevalent. I credit the indoor soccer influence on the NBA and now it’s everywhere.”"

His time with the Strikers and Timberwolves would be cut short as he would come to Cleveland for the first time for a brief stint with the Cleveland Lumberjacks, a now-defunct hockey team. He would then join the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles were one of the worst franchises in the league when Komoroski showed up. He helped them move from old Veterans Stadium to the new, beautiful Lincoln Financial Field. Under his watch, the Eagles became the first franchise to cross the $1 billion mark in revenue.

After all of this, Komoroski came to the Cavaliers and helped develop one of the top organizations in professional sports, as recognized by the Sports Business Journal. It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was a process that began with landing hometown hero LeBron James.

"“The Cavs were the fourth team in a three-team market,” Komorski said about the state of the franchise upon his arrival."

James was already an international superstar when he came to the Cavaliers, thanks to his basketball ability. He instantly put Cleveland on the global scale with his talents, alone.

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Gordon Gund was the owner of the Cavaliers before selling the team to a businessman from Detroit named Dan Gilbert. Gund sold the team to Gilbert because of their similarities in developing a great team culture that is focused on building the community up.

Komoroski credits Gund for the past and credits Gilbert for the team’s recent success.

Gilbert provided an opportunity for the Cavs and Komoroski to dream big, focusing on community involvement. This directs the team to being committed to excelling in creating the best overall experience for the fans, and winning, of course.

Gilbert really instilled a great vision and created a culture where everyone needs to be on board.

"“(The Cavs) won’t be successful if our team members aren’t invested in our culture,” Komoroski said of Gilbert’s vision."

Komoroski has helped Cleveland grow with the development of Jack Casino, across from Quicken Loans Arena, which brings in five million people to downtown Cleveland. Otherwise the state would continue to lose $2 billion to surrounding states with casinos.

He was a key leader in bringing the Republican National Convention to Cleveland, and the media that comes with it. It’s the second largest media event, next to the Olympics, and Komoroski viewed it as an opportunity to change the national perception of Cleveland.

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Winning the bid to host the RNC came around the same time as James announcing his return to the Cavs, after he left in heartbreaking fashion.

"“[James coming back] was a tipping point for this city,” Komoroski said of the King’s return."

Komoroski found out moments before the public that James was returning to Cleveland from the Miami Heat.

On his walk from lunch back to The Q people were celebrating in the streets and coming up to hug him. Not long after, he also found out that Cleveland would host the RNC, another big moment for the city.

All of this led to the a great, three-month period for the city of Cleveland. The NBA Playoffs were in full swing, and eventually the Cavaliers were in the NBA Finals, won the Larry O’Brien Trophy and celebrated with the sixth highest-attended parade in sports history with 1.3 million people attending.

"“We totally turned the heads of all the media and people that were here,” Komoroski said of the RNC."

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Four weeks later, Donald Trump accepted the nomination to run as President of the United States at Quicken Loans Arena, the home of the Cavs. The RNC was a key catalyst for improving the city to help the national perception of Cleveland, and it worked.