Justin Barrasso
Friday November 11th, 2016

The Undertaker does not do publicity stunts.

Sports Illustrated spoke with a high-ranking WWE official and confirmed that the Cleveland Cavaliers invited the Undertaker to their opening night game against the New York Knicks on October 25 in Cleveland, and paid for his flight to Quicken Loans Arena.

“The Cavs invited WWE to the game and paid for the appearance,” WWE told SI. “As their guests, we were gladly fulfilling their request to meet the team.”

The team reached out to WWE and requested the Undertaker fly to the game. According to sources, WWE was informed by the team that the request was made by LeBron James’s representatives.

James wore t-shirts of both the Undertaker and Ultimate Warrior last spring during his championship run with the Cavs, which is the connective tissue between James, the Undertaker and Dana Warrior, who is the widow of the Ultimate Warrior. The Cavs paid for both the Undertaker and Dana Warrior to be there, including their flights. Contrary to reports, this was not a stunt designed for a public relations hit by WWE.

James has prior history with WWE, as he also requested—and received—WWE championship belts for all Miami Heat players after their title in 2014. Those were sent directly by WWE.

Pictures of the Undertaker waiting outside the Cavs’ locker room surfaced on opening night​. While many players met with the Undertaker and took pictures, James never met with the legendary professional wrestler.

Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon wrote that LeBron James “is not cool with someone purposefully trying to make money or gain fame through him… In other words, no PR stunts that don’t benefit James.”

While that may be an accurate description of James’s philosophy on marketing and PR, the words ring hollow here. The Undertaker was an invited guest and had been informed by the team that the request was for James. In an attempt to deliver on the request, which is an area in which WWE is better than almost any other professional entity, the Undertaker waited outside the Cavs’ locker room before the game.

Sports Illustrated reached out to the Cavs for an official statement regarding why James did not meet with the Undertaker.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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