Where LeBron James and politics intersect

BY Domenico Montanaro  July 11, 2014 at 3:56 PM EST
The GOP might be joining LeBron James in Cleveland in 2016. Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The GOP might be joining LeBron James in Cleveland in 2016. Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been a pretty good week for Cleveland.

Earlier this week the Republican National Committee announced that Cleveland was its pick to hold the party’s national presidential nominating convention in 2016. And then today the biggest news the city could have hoped for — LeBron James, the biggest name in professional basketball, was returning home, leaving South Beach for C-Town.

On the political front, this could mean the Republican convention will be held the week of July 18, instead of the earlier possibility of June 28th if the Cavaliers have a playoff run.

For its part, the RNC isn’t tipping its hand yet.

“We will choose a date that allows us to put on the best convention possible and all options remain on the table, as we’re still very early on in the negotiation process,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told NewsHour. “We’re excited about Cleveland and LeBron’s return is further evidence that it’s a city on the rise.”

Cleveland being picked as for the GOP convention is still tentative. Final negotiations with the city still have to occur and the pick is subject to a full RNC vote in August.

The news of James’ move even prompted comment from the White House. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama considers James to be “a fine young man,” who has shown “a professionalism that is pretty impressive.”

“It’s a pretty powerful statement about the value of a place that you consider home,” Earnest added of James, who grew up in Akron, 40 minutes South of Cleveland.

James began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a fresh-from-high-school phenom before controversially bolting for the Miami Heat. In four seasons with the Heat, James won two championships and appeared in another final this past year before losing to the San Antonio Spurs.

President Obama has long been a fan of James, even once comparing himself to the great hoopster.

Asked backstage of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where then-state Sen. Obama began his improbable national rise, he was asked by a Chicago Tribune reporter if he was nervous about giving the biggest speech of his life. “I’m LeBron, baby,” he said. “I can play on this level. I got game.”

Cleveland hopes that James’ second term, so-to-speak, will bring a championship this time.