A few months ago, Cleveland had nothing. Now it has LeBron James and Johnny Manziel.
Attention and headlines galore.
And yet, while James and Manziel are good friends, they probably won’t be hanging out a whole lot, especially on weekends.
“If Johnny has any ideas of hanging out with LeBron in Cleveland, he’s maybe about five years too late for that,” Sports on Earth NBA writer Shaun Powell said on Ferrall on the Bench. “LeBron is going to be locked up in his home. He’s a family guy. He’s got a daughter coming on the way. And by the way, Manziel’s actually got to win the (starting) job to have some clout in that town. But even if he does – even if he has a good rookie season – that town’s in love with LeBron right now.”
As well they should be. Four years after shunning Cleveland on national television, James returned with far less fanfare, revealing his intentions and explaining his motivations via essay.
James went from hated to beloved in a matter of minutes.
“When he left Cleveland, everybody was upset (and) calling him all kinds of names,” Powell said. “But now that he’s going back, it’s like a LeBron James love fest. It’s amazing how the public has done a complete turn on this.”
“I think that’s kind of a credit to LeBron. He seems like a different guy. First of all, I never thought he was a horrible guy to begin with. But he seems to be a little bit more chill, a little bit more mellow, a little bit more mature. And I think his so-called handlers – or maybe LeBron himself – kind of thought this thing through and how they wanted to do it and they pulled it off. Everybody’s applauding him for it.”
James signed a two-year, $42.1 million deal with Cleveland but said he intends to commit to the Cavaliers long-term. At this point, if James doesn’t finish his career in Cleveland, it would be stunning.
“Dude’s locked in. He’s not going anywhere,” Powell said. “First of all, he came back to Cleveland for family reasons. He’s not all of a sudden going to go play for the Utah Jazz. He wants his kids to go to the same school he went to.”
But it goes deeper than that.
“One thing about being back home for LeBron, it’s probably the last time in his life he had a sense of normalcy,” Powell said. “Here’s a guy who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated (at the age of 17). At least there was a portion of his life where he was just a kid, an ordinary person. He could go to the mall and not be mobbed. So this brings him back to a sense of normalcy – where he has great memories and he knows the town and he can walk around and maybe they don’t treat him as such a big deal. He’s comfortable with that.”
“We all mature and as we get a little bit older and everything like that, we look for those memories of the good times,” Powell continued. “Not to say that this guy has had a hard life. He’s had some good times in Miami. But it’s another part of his life that he wanted to reconnect with. At least that’s what I get from him.”