A Toronto councillor is making good on his friendly cross-border wager made with a Cleveland councillor during the NBA playoffs.
As the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors geared up for their Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup back in May, Toronto councillor Matt Zone and Cleveland councillor Josh Matlow decided to have a little competition of their own – all in the name of public service.
Instead of your usual run-of-the-mill cash bet, Zone and Matlow wagered that the losing councillor would go to the other city and clean up a street of the winner’s choosing.
“This is not about Josh or Matt, it’s about Toronto and Cleveland, so what better respect could we pay back and pay homage to our cities than by a reverse challenge?” said Zone to Global News at the time of the bet.
“I’m going to re-designate a street called ‘Toronto Way’ and make sure he picks up every cigarette butt on that street,” he added with a laugh.
With the Cavaliers handing Toronto a clean sweep out of the postseason, Matlow is holding up his end of the bargain by cleaning that newly-crowned “Toronto Way” in Cleveland Tuesday.
Zone would have been headed to Toronto to clean the aptly-titled Cleveland Street in midtown, if the Raptors had pulled off the upset.
Matlow also used his visit to the States to meet with the National League of Cities – an organization of which Zone is the President – which aims to help city leaders build better communities.
“It’s a great pleasure to meet with National League of Cities leaders from across the United States to discuss our shared priorities and make good on the friendly wager I made with Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone,” wrote Matlow in a statement to Global News. “The Cavs enjoyed a clean sweep of our Raptors, so I’m going to make a clean sweep of a Cleveland neighbourhood.
“A bet’s a bet and I’m here to honour it.”
The fulfilment of the bet marked the first time the two councillors met in person, but both hope it is the beginning of a new partnership and relationship between the two communities, as they work to build partnerships between American and Canadian cities.
“The strong international relationship that makes our basketball rivalry possible is a powerful embodiment of the welcoming, inclusive attitude that helps our businesses and residents thrive,” wrote Zone in a statement to Global News.
“This experiment in basketball diplomacy has been a chance to see past political borders and build a stronger bond between our two communities — through sports, tourism, trade, culture, the arts and more,” he added.
Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson was on hand at the NLC conference to present Matlow with his very own “Toronto Way” street sign.