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The LeBron James ‘tidal wave’ lifts all boats, including the Browns’

Posted Jul 14, 2014

Senior Editor Vic Carucci says LeBron James’ decision to return to Cleveland has a positive impact on the Browns.

The LeBron James tidal wave isn’t only about LeBron James or the Cleveland Cavaliers or basketball.

It’s scope is so much larger.

Mainly, it’s a story about civic pride, which, of course, served as an incredibly strong magnet for the most famous athlete on the planet.

And because James’ decision to return to the Cavs has done so much to make Cleveland a national media topic in sports and well beyond, it has made a natural connection with the town’s other sports franchises. The strongest of those is with the Browns, and I’m not simply saying that because I work for them.

I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who was in the best possible location to observe what LeBron Mania has meant to this region: outside of Cleveland and northeast Ohio.

While vacationing the past few weeks, I spent a great deal of time in New York State, surrounded mostly by people with no ties to Cleveland or its sports teams. Yet, in practically every social setting, with men and women, Cleveland dominated the discussion. We’d usually begin by talking about LeBron, but it wouldn’t be long before we were discussing the Browns. And some of those involved in the conversation weren’t initially aware of my connection with the team.

The common refrain was, “What an exciting time for Cleveland! You’ve got LeBron back in town. And everyone has to be stoked about the Browns, especially with Johnny Manziel and Mike Pettine and the other new players and coaches. Cleveland is the hottest place in sports right now.”

I heard that from fans of the Buffalo Bills. I heard that from fans of the New York Jets. I heard that from fans of the Indianapolis Colts. I heard that from fans of the St. Louis Rams.

“You have to really love being in Cleveland with all of that going on,” they would tell me.

I do.

It’s fun to be a part of something that has what every sports town craves: relevance.

The majority of what has transpired since the Browns generated the first tidal wave with the selection of Manziel in last May’s NFL Draft has made for a positive narrative. It has set the stage for great excitement and high expectations across the board.

We live for this kind of stuff.

It’s also fair to say that the anticipated dramatic improvement of the Cavaliers should serve as fuel for the Browns’ competitive fire. This has always been an NFL town, and it still is. Still, the strong possibility of the city’s NBA franchise suddenly competing for a championship in the near future raises the stakes for everyone connected with the football team.

LeBron’s return didn’t overshadow the Browns, who are less than two weeks from opening training camp. It had the effect of, to borrow from a quote from John F. Kennedy, a rising tide lifting all boats.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com. We take your questions at 216-578-0850 and via Twitter @Browns_Daily.