CLEVELAND — Former Cleveland Cavalier center and forward Channing Frye returned to Cleveland for the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend. But while he was here to enjoy the festivities and catch up with his former teammates in town, Frye also made it a point to give back to the city he holds near and dear to his heart.
Excited to be back in Cleveland, it won't be much of a reunion for him as he meets up with some former teammates also in town for All-Star festivities.
“I'm still on text chains with these guys to this day— J.R. [Smith], Kevin [Love], Richard [Jefferson], Tristan [Thompson], [Le]Bron [James], right? All those guys, Delly [Matthew Dellavedova].”
Frye recalled all the time he and his teammates spent together and how much chemistry they were able to form.
"I feel like our chemistry mixed with elite, uber talent gave us an opportunity to win in 2016. We did not stop believing. Down, 3-1, we locked in even tighter and this is no exaggeration—I was around those guys 16 hours a day," Frye said. "Whether that was dinner, breakfast, lunch, working out, after working out, brunch, on the plane, after the plane, hotel—we were brothers."
Thinking back on that team, Frye compared them to this current Cavs team—a team he still watches closely.
"This team is the most dangerous when they fully believe, and I have no doubt that they know what it takes to win and how hard you need to work to win. And then all of them are more engaged in the game for others' success than their own," Frye said. "And that type of attitude is dangerous, and that is what's going to build the culture for years to come."
Frye said that while he's in Cleveland, he plans to take in the city and truly enjoy himself now back in a place he called home for years.
"I'm out there enjoying myself, seeing friends I haven't seen in three years, really just kind of getting fat, going to eat all the places I missed, drink all the Chosen Family wine I can get my hands on," Frye said. "It's just being out there and giving back to the community and trying to let the people know that I didn't forget them, it's just been COVID and I don't really travel to many places like that, but I still love them—and to hopefully see some of my boys."
Getting back in the community, and giving back to the community, was something Frye was able to accomplish this weekend.
Partnering with Mobil 1, Frye worked alongside Project Backboard, an organization that renovates public basketball courts with the goal of strengthening communities, to revitalize the court at Merrick House, a neighborhood center that offers social services to residents.
"For me, thinking about the endless possibilities of what a basketball court is, is just limited by the imagination of the people that are on it. Whether you're playing tag or tennis or just shooting, and so many things happen," Frye said. "Being able to give a court or refurbished it is just my way of saying thank you, but also giving back and hopefully people and these kids really embracing this, embracing sport in general."
The design on the court was created by Cleveland-native Dakarai Akil.
Frye celebrated the unveiling of the new court on Friday, kicking off All-Star Weekend festivities with a bang and meeting with community members who will now get to shoot hoops on a fresh new court.
As one of the members of the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers championship team, Frye had a major impact on the city of Cleveland—but he said the city had just as much of an impact on him.
"The city of Cleveland made me who I am today as a man, right, not as a player—that was done on the court and in practice. I think the relationships that I have with people in Cleveland are endless," Frye said. "And it's just a reminder to people that like whenever you're given something you want to give back. And I have this thing where like if I get a pair of shoes, I give two away. It's just how things should be because you've got to pass a blessing on. And so I'm just trying to pass a blessing on it and do it in a way that's forever, hopefully."
Frye said he is hopeful that the revitalized court will not only become a place where the next generation of hoopers gets their start, but where everyone can be positively impacted in some way.
"I want this to become theirs. I want this to be the community's, but I want them to feel a sense of endearment to it that it is theirs, that they have these memories of, 'Oh, I remember where I scored the game-winning bucket' or 'I remember where I met my best friend,' 'I remember where I may have played ball against my wife.' I want those memories for them. And doing that, by refurbishing this court," Frye said.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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