Francesa: With LeBron, Manziel, Forsaken Sports City Cleveland Now Has Juice
NEW YORK (WFAN) — As the news of LeBron James’ decision to take his talents back to the Cavaliers came down Friday, WFAN’s Mike Francesa chimed in, saying that’s exactly what Cleveland needed.
James announced in a written piece on Sports Illustrated’s website that he would be leaving the Miami Heat, with whom he won two championships and made four NBA Finals appearances in four years, for the team he broke into the NBA with back in 2003 and led to the championship round three years later.
Francesa said James’ statement was eye-opening as it answered a lot of questions that really needed to be answered.
“The thing I couldn’t get past was the idea that he was going to return to Cleveland and had never met (Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert). How could they get past that, with what he had said about him, with the letter that had been on the website, and everything that had been said? That seemed to be an enormous obstacle,” Francesa said. “Well, we learned in the statement that LeBron sent through SI … that, yes, he had quietly met with the Cleveland owner and they had talked it out, and they had met face to face, and that they had settled things. LeBron said I made mistakes, he made mistakes, who am I go to hold a grudge?”
Francesa supported James’ decision, saying it completely changes the NBA and likely for the better.
“Listen, he gave Miami a couple championships and four years of really rock star kind of attention. Will they get over the hurt? It will be tough. I’m sure Bosh will scoot to Houston right now and Riley might leave. I’m sure Miami eventually will get over it and realize that they got four years. I think the only place he could go unscathed was to Cleveland and now we’ll see what that means to the landscape,” Francesa said.
James, who is 29, admitted he didn’t expect miracles overnight with the Cavaliers, who have not been relevant since he departed following the 2009-10 season. Francesa said if everything breaks right in Cleveland the Cavs will be able to sustain winning for a long time because the four-time league MVP is surrounded by likely can’t-miss young talents Andrew Wiggins and Kyrie Irving.
“I think they should keep and build around their young players, because if Wiggins is what he’s supposed to be and Irving is what he’s supposed to be, as LeBron ages those guys will mature into their prime years and they will be able to lend their athleticism as he ages a little bit and take a little of the pressure off him after he teaches them how to win, which he will do,” Francesa said.
“It will need some time. Now, (oddsmakers) might make (the Cavaliers) a favorite to win next year, but it doesn’t matter. Obviously there will be some learning curve, but they are going to become an important team right from the start. And Cleveland becomes a city that is very. Very different than it was just a couple of hours ago,” Francesa added.
With the exception of the Indians’ appearance in the 1997 World Series and the James-led Cavs’ run to the NBA Finals in 2006-07, the city of Cleveland has been a dead-end sports town since the Browns won the NFL championship in 1964. Francesa said the coupling of James and Johnny Manziel will bring an incredible amount of juice to a city that desperately wants sports relevancy.
“So this forsaken city, which has yearned for a championship for a very long time, now has a very prominent place in sports and, who knows, maybe it’s time for the Browns to get good, we’ll see what happens. The Indians aren’t in bad hands … but this is a very special time for Cleveland and a devastating time for Miami,” Francesa said.
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