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Optimism of Nick Gilbert is something Cavs fans can embrace

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It took only four simple words to create a craze in Cleveland.

This past Tuesday, the NBA held its annual lottery to determine the selection order in next month’s draft. Every team sends a representative and for the Cleveland Cavaliers it was owner Dan Gilbert’s 14-year-old son Nick.

Nick took to the stage, literally a boy among men, and wound up stealing the show.

The story has been well-documented by now: how he was born with neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes tumors to grow anywhere on the body. He’s had brain surgery, lost vision in one eye, and has endured several rounds of chemotherapy all before the age of 15.

When asked by a reporter what he thought about being the personal hero to his father, Nick answered rhetorically with the now-famous “What’s not to like?” How could you NOT smile?

But there was still business to attend to; envelopes that needed to be opened. When it was revealed the Cavs had defied the odds, taking home the number one overall draft selection (with the pick they received from the LA Clippers, a 2.8 percent chance) as well as the fourth pick, it was time to celebrate.

And for Nick? Well his motto caught on at the speed of light. It immediately went haywire through Twitter and Facebook, with Clevelanders adopting it as their new mantra. Local T-shirt company Fresh Brewed Tees had a new shirt ready for sale that same night, proudly displaying “What’s Not To Like?” front and center.

But perhaps the biggest winner of the night was the Children’s Tumor Foundation, for which Nick serves as the 2011 ambassador. The publicity he generated for the organization resulted in over $35,000 in donations that will be used to fund research for a cure; an amount that will be matched by his dad.

Nick Gilbert has given everyone in this town a reason to smile. His fortitude and optimism is something anyone in Cleveland can support. And the luck he brought the Cavs at the draft lottery could be the start of something magical for a franchise desperate to forget another catch-phrase that haunts the team… something about taking an ego to South Beach or something.

See? Ancient history already.

To make a donation to the Children’s Tumor Foundation, please visit their website: www.ctf.org

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