NEW YORK -- LeBron James has some pretty good connections at Nike, and that's how he got one of the first Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns jerseys, sporting the No. 2 in brown and orange on the Miami Heat's flight to New York on Friday.
James has befriended Manziel in recent months and is now in business with him after James' Akron, Ohio-based LRMR Marketing firm signed the quarterback to do sponsorship deals. Before James took on the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of their conference semifinal series he said he had a hunch Manziel would be headed to his old base in Cleveland.
James said he hopes Manziel can bring success to long-suffering Browns fans.
"After I saw he didn't go to Dallas, I figured he'd go to Cleveland," James said. "He's a smart kid and he relishes the opportunity to hopefully bring some great moments back to Cleveland as far as the football team."
After signing with James and business partner Maverick Carter, Manziel appeared in a McDonald's commercial with the Heat star and signed a shoe deal with Nike. In the two days since he was taken by the Browns with the No. 22 pick in the first round, James said he has talked to Manziel several times, and Carter accompanied him to Cleveland for his introductory news conference on Friday.
James believes Manziel will have a chance to win the starting quarterback job in Cleveland.
"It's exciting, he's going to get the opportunity to compete for the starting job, so it's exciting for us, our family and his family," James said. "He's been in pressure situations for a long time, that shouldn't change now because he's starting his NFL [career]."
A former all-state wide receiver in high school in Ohio, James said that Manziel may be in need of some receivers in Cleveland with star wideout Josh Gordon reportedly facing a drug suspension.
"It's possible [he needs some receivers]," James said. "We're waiting for the [Gordon] ruling, we'll see what happens with that."
James is a longtime fan of the Cowboys and hoped owner Jerry Jones, who has a relationship with both James and Manziel, would have considered Manziel. But the Cowboys were one of the many teams that passed Thursday night.
"He's ready to get to work," James said. "A lot of teams passed up on him, but whatever team picked him he was ready to make an impact."