The Westside Market in Cleveland, OH, was first dedicated and opened to the public in 1912. Its 137-foot clock tower has stood as a city landmark for over a century. The last major renovations to the Westside Market occurred in 2004, and it’s currently home to over 100 grocery vendors from all over the city. It’s a produce market, but also a civic treasure, bursting with fresh fruit, leafy vegetables and decades of historical pride.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova had just dropped his girlfriend off at Hopkins International Airport before we met at the corner of W. 24th and Market Street. We talked about the upcoming season as vendors prepared to open their doors at 7 a.m. on Monday morning.
“I got up at about five,” Dellavedova said. “Or actually it was 4:50. But we have the day off today, so it’s OK. I thought I’d do some grocery shopping on the way home, and then go back to bed.”
Coach David Blatt had given the Cavaliers Monday off from practice. The second-year guard from St. Mary’s was embracing the opportunity to rest and re-charge. With an 82-game NBA grind set to begin on Thursday, he knows those chances will be scarce moving forward. But even on an off-day, standing on a street corner at 6:45 a.m., his excitement for opening night was impossible to mask.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Dellavedova said, of the Cavs’ opening night matchup with Carmelo Anthony, coach Derek Fisher and the New York Knicks. “I remember our first game last year, and that was a pretty crazy atmosphere. So it’s hard to picture what it’s going to be like on Thursday. But I know how passionate our fans are, and when LeBron takes the floor it’s going to be crazy in there.”
The celebration of LeBron James’ regular-season return to the Cleveland Cavaliers begins long before Dellavedova or any of his teammates take the floor on October 30. Starting at 4 p.m., directly across the street from the arena, is a fan event featuring Kendrick Lamar and Kevin Hart. Dan Gilbert’s team has also announced they will be unveiling a new HD scoreboard on opening night, along with an enhanced audio/visual system.
These high-profile performances and in-game theatrics will serve as only a mere complement to the singular moment when LeBron James tosses chalk through the Cleveland sky so powerful it’s likely to dent the arena roof shortly after leaving his hands.
“You can feel the difference in media attention,” Delly said, when I asked him to compare the current environment to what he experienced with the Cavaliers last season. As one example, we referenced the play in Brazil with James, Norris Cole and Dellavedova that made national headlines following their pre-season matchup with the Miami Heat.
“My family, friends back home, everyone was messaging me about that play,” he said. “It’s amazing how big that got. I thought it was just a routine basketball play when it happened. I needed to go under him, you know? That was the only difference. I never even thought about it outside of that. But the focus on LeBron is so huge, on everything he does, and you could really see it with the response to that play.”
The media attention surrounding James will only be magnified by the Cavaliers debut of Kevin Love. Love has been touted around Cleveland as a player who could eventually become the second greatest star in Cavaliers franchise history. That becomes increasingly likely if he helps James and Kyrie Irving lead Cleveland to its first professional championship since Jim Brown in 1964.
How quickly Love can mesh with James, Irving and the rest of his new teammates in Cleveland will become a key talking point throughout the season. But Dellavedova believes the Cavs are ahead of schedule in that regard; with their recent trip to Brazil being a big reason why.
“The trip to Brazil was really awesome,” Dellavedova told me. “I think we really bonded as a team on the trip. It was perfect timing with so many new guys. We really got to know each other. That bond will be important. Then Brazil, as a country, is such a beautiful place. So it was cool having a teammate like Andy [Varejao] show us around while we were there.”
Varejao will be starting alongside his former teammate LeBron James on opening night at the center position. Tristan Thompson, who’s proven capable of playing both the 4 and 5, will be anchoring a second unit that includes Dellavedova at the point. Delly will be backing up All-Star Kyrie Irving, coming off the bench with NBA champions Mike Miller and Shawn Marion.
“I always buy my groceries here,” Dellavedova said. We had just been motioned into the Westside Market by a friendly looking vendor at a produce stand near the main entrance. “I like getting here early in the morning, before it gets too crowded. It’s perfect like this right now.”
As we entered the market, our eyes were met with an endless array of healthy produce and engaging vendors. We were quickly reminded of why we met at the Westside Market in the first place, and began to discuss our shopping strategy.
Fresh, healthy blends of all-natural smoothies are a critical part of Matthew Dellavedova’s NBA diet. Recently, he created a recipe for his own signature smoothie. We arrived at the Westside Market to purchase those ingredients.
“We’ll get the fruit first,” he told me, while motioning toward an adjacent stand. “Pineapples, blackberries and blueberries—I’ll grab those right here.”
Dellavedova talked with vendors and other customers as they passed by while we shopped. Everyone offered a friendly wave and encouraging smile. Thursday will be a historic moment in Cavaliers history, and Dellavedova will be competing for a city that’s embraced him with open arms since he first arrived. You could see that support in the faces of Clevelanders we met along the way.
“Over the course of a season, your diet is so important,” he explained, as I drank a 20-ounce coffee topped off with cream and sugar. “Smoothies are great for you, great for your body. And I love coming here, they have everything you need.”
This season, more than the last, Dellavedova knows his team will be getting everything the opposition has on a nightly basis. He understands that challenge, and obviously knows the stakes have been raised with the arrival of James and Love.
“We’re going to get everyone’s best shot this year,” Delly said. “I know that. Last year, maybe we didn’t get that shot every night. But now we’re opening the season against a good Knicks team. Then right after that, we’re in Chicago. Those are two tough games, and it’s going to be challenging all season. I think the Eastern Conference is going to be pretty tough this year.”
Eastern Conference rival Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards told SLAM Magazine this summer that Dellavedova was among the three toughest one-on-one defenders in the NBA, along with Iman Shumpert and Tony Allen. That defensive intensity helped Delly appear in 72 games as an undrafted rookie-free agent, while logging 1,271 NBA minutes. He finished third among all rookies in three-point field-goal percentage, and has earned 18 minutes per night as the backup point guard during the preseason.
“You should probably get some fruit or something too while we’re here,” Dellavedova told me, as we walked down a long, winding aisle. I hadn’t finished enough of my coffee yet to realize I could also be grocery shopping. Thankfully, Delly offered a much-needed heads up.
“That’s a good point, I probably should. I think I’ll buy a couple of those oranges and apples real quick.”
He waited as I exchanged three $1 bills for a bag of fresh fruit at the Westside Market. Following the transaction, we left in search of spinach and kale.
“I’m thinking about adding almonds, but I’m not sure I’ve seen any,” he mentioned, as we finalized our spinach purchase. “Keep your eye out for almonds if you see any.”
I remained on high-alert for almonds over the next several minutes but couldn’t find any, either. Our photographer, Jason Crocker, had tucked his camera away momentarily and also joined the search for almonds. We found a stand called P-Nut Gallery, but the vendor hadn’t arrived yet. So almonds, it appeared, were out.
“I’ll just drive back here later if I decide to use almonds in the smoothie,” Delly said. “I could go either way on it honestly, and I already have a lot of great stuff. I think I’m good with what we got.”
Dellavedova was holding two bags of fresh produce in each hand while standing in an aisle at the Westside Market. As we raised a white flag on our search for almonds, I asked him about playing for David Blatt.
“I enjoy listening to his press conferences,” I told Matt. “I feel like I learn something when he’s up there. I know he’s saying a lot of the same things we’ve always heard about basketball, but he says them in different ways. Does that make sense?”
“Yeah, I know what you’re saying,” Dellavedova replied. “He’s a teacher of the game. He’s a coach and competitor, but he’s also a teacher. He’s always teaching. I really enjoy playing for him and I’m learning a lot. He’s been great to play for.”
The Cavaliers guard from Australia stopped and talked with people milling about the market as he left with his groceries. He was heading home to sleep on an off day from his job in the NBA. As we moved toward the parking lot, we began to review the smoothie ingredients we purchased.
Naming Delly’s Signature Smoothie
Matthew Dellavedova created the recipe for his signature smoothie. If you have a name you’d like to suggest for it, though, let us know. Tweet your name for Dellavedova’s smoothie with the hashtag #DellyMarket and that might end up becoming the name he goes with this season. For now, the working title is “Delly’s Market Smoothie.”
Here is how we arrived at the working title:
What are you going to name your smoothie?
“You want me to name it, too?”
Well, do you have a name for it already?
“I really only focused on the recipe, what ingredients work best together. I didn’t really think of a name. But you can make up the name if you want?”
Makes sense. OK, I’ll try. But Michael Symon might ask you to make this smoothie on the Food Network someday so you can’t forget the name we decide on.
“I doubt they’ll have me on [laughs]. Just call it whatever you want.”
Ingredients and Recipe
The following smoothie recipe is written by Matt Dellavedova. If you post a smoothie picture with the ingredients identified, he will retweet. Be sure to use the hashtag #DellyMarket on any pictures or Instagram posts.
The recipe for “Delly’s Market Smoothie” is below—all ingredients purchased at The Westside Market in Cleveland, OH.
Delly’s Market Smoothie
A little bit of ginger and turmeric
Ginger keeps you from getting sick
Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory
Don’t forget the mint!
The Cleveland Cavaliers open their season on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT against the New York Knicks. I’d recommend downing a couple smoothies in the meantime to makes sure you’re prepared.
Brendan Bowers is an NBA writer who covers the Cavaliers and the NBA in Cleveland for SLAM. Follow him on Twitter at @BowersCLE.
All photos featured in the slideshow are by Jason Crocker. Big thanks to Jason for meeting us at the Westside Market on Monday and doing his thing. He has more behind-the-scenes photos and coverage of Dellavedova’s trip to the Westside Market on Instagram, check them out here: @JasonTCrocker.
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