I was walking toward East 4th Street in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon with Brian Spaeth and the round23 creative team. We were shooting a series of videos for PlusByEMS.com. Brian was using the ems+ mobile credit card reader as a microphone while conducting a number of hard-hitting interviews.
There were approximately 100,000 people in downtown Cleveland on Saturday as the Indians, Browns and Gladiators all hosted home games. NBA champion coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich, was one of those people.
I was looking at my phone when our video crew stumbled into Pop near East 4th.
Brian: Hey, is that Popovich?
Brian: Right next to you.
Me: Actually yeah, it is.
[I then turned to walk toward Coach Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs who has won five NBA championships including a four-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007. He was two strides away from me.]
Me: Hey Coach, Brendan Bowers. Nice to meet you. Congrats on everything last season.
Gregg Popovich: Hey thanks a lot, it was a season to remember. Nice to meet you, too.
[Pop then shakes my hand which may or may not have been trembling in anticipation of Gregg Popovich potentially crushing my entire hand during a potential handshake. Ended up going okay, though.]
Me: Enjoying your time Cleveland?
Gregg Popovich: Yeah it’s been great, lot of excitement around here.
Me: I can only imagine what it will be like when you guys come back for the NBA Championship.
Gregg Popovich: That’d be something [kinda smiles]. I’ll tell you this much, though, the Cavs are going to be really, really good this year. They have a really good team.
Nobody else seemed to notice Gregg Popovich standing on a very active corner in downtown Cleveland on Saturday as we talked. So after he introduced me to the person he was standing there with, I thought I’d ask him to take this picture.
Great talking with the legendary Coach Popovich today. Hope to see him back in town for NBA championship pic.twitter.com/UzT5D6rKF5
— Brendan Bowers (@BowersCLE) August 23, 2014
But despite how nice he was, I was still kinda nervous that Pop could go halftime-interview mode on me so I went into the picture cautiously.
Responses similar to those featured above can also be found throughout my Facebook and Instagram feeds. They all made me laugh. But the funniest thing about my exchange with Pop, in hindsight, is that I never even thought to ask him what he was doing in Cleveland.
The reason I never asked is because it actually made sense to me at the time, to see Gregg Popovich enjoying a beautiful day in Cleveland at this moment in our city’s history.
The shores of North Beach are now open, and they’re being flooded with countless numbers of A-list celebrities. People want to be seen in Cleveland. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Joe Haden, Johnny Manziel and Terry Francona is good for your personal brand.
Pop gets that.
So when I saw him near East 4th on Saturday, I just thought—of course Gregg Popovich is in Cleveland today. Why wouldn’t he be?
Everybody’s here now.