GOP's latest headache: LeBron James
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NBA megastar LeBron James might soon force the Republican Party into a full-court press.    

James' Cleveland Cavaliers are marching toward the NBA Finals, which could leave the GOP with less time than expected to turn the Quicken Loans Arena into their July convention site.


The Republican National Committee typically asks for six weeks of exclusive access to build the convention hall, but might not get it this year due to the NBA finals, which is scheduled to run until mid-June. 

Republicans involved in the convention planning admit that the Cavaliers’ success may up the pressure, but are expressing confidence that the party will be able to deliver.

“We are doing as much of the preparation as we can before we get into the Quicken Loans Arena, and while it will be rushed, we will get it done,” Kirsten Kukowski, the spokeswoman for the RNC’s convention effort, told The Hill by email. 

“Our contractor, operations and production teams are meeting with the Quicken Loans and Cavaliers staff to make this as quick of a turnaround as possible once we gain access to the arena.”

The Cavs swept the first two series of the postseason, beating the Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks. Now the team is tied with the Toronto Raptors at two games each, with the winner heading to the NBA Finals.

If the Cavaliers make it to the Finals and the series runs to seven games, the final game would be played on June 19. That’s just four weeks before the start of the July 18 Republican National Convention. The RNC could catch a break if the Cavaliers play Golden State Warriors--that team topped the NBA in the regular season and has home-court advantage, which would make the final game in Cleveland on June 16. 

Audrey Scagnelli, a spokesperson for the RNC’s arrangements committee, told The Washington Examiner that the party would begin building the convention hall as soon as the Cavs are finished with the arena. 

"Six hours after the last game, the Cavs will hand over the keys," she said.

"We'll literally have our trucks coming and their trucks going out — literally. It's a choreographed dance."

When bidding to host the convention, one of Cleveland’s main selling points over rival Dallas was its ability to host an early convention. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban refused to entertain moving playoff games to accommodate a convention.

But Cavalier’s owner Dan Gilbert, a member of the Cleveland convention host committee, flew to Washington to meet with the Republican National Committee to assure the committee that a playoff run would not interfere with the convention planning. 

“This is something they’ve known all along and prepared their plans around, only having a certain number of days to execute their build out,” Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges told The Hill.

“We demonstrated that it could be done.”

The Cavs were stuggling when the RNC decided to award the bid to Cleveland on July 8, 2014, having missed the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

Just two days later, James announced he’d be returning home to lead the Cavaliers, spurring questions about the impact on the convention schedule. 

Borges said Cleveland won’t mind putting in extra work for the convention if it means winning a championship.

“If you had asked any Clevelander: Would you trade getting LeBron back, winning the first title in 50-plus years for the city, in exchange for what might be a little bit of discomfort getting ready for the Republican Convention? The vote would have been 100 to zero,” he said.

Plus, he added, the Cavs have the power to make things slightly easier on the RNC if they were to win the Finals by June 10.

“I think the Cavs will do everyone a favor because they’ll sweep the finals.”