NEW YORK -- LeBron James hasn’t wasted any time promoting his marketing firm’s most high-profile client.
James showed off his custom-made Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns jersey on Friday during the Heat’s team flight to New York, and on Saturday spent most of his pregame news conference talking about the football player with the perfect nickname, Johnny Football. How did James get his Manziel jersey so quickly?
“I got a good connection at Nike, and they took care of it,” James joked.
Both James and Manziel are sponsored by Nike, and Manziel signed with James’ marketing firm, LRMR, shortly after declaring for the NFL Draft.
James was hoping Manziel would go to the Cowboys, which would have given Manziel an even bigger profile with more marketing potential.
“We were watching the draft after our game and after I saw that he didn’t go to Dallas I figured he would go to Cleveland at 22,” James said. “He’s going to get a chance to compete for the starting job, so it’s exciting for us, for our family, for him and his family.”
The Heat scored just 15 points in the first quarter of Game 2. A better start in Game 3 was a top priority for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, and the Heat’s players responded. A three-point play by James put the Heat ahead 16-15 with 6:19 left in first quarter.
The Heat went on to outscore the Nets 30-29 in the first period and shoot 64.7 percent from the field. James had 16 points in the period.
But it wasn’t a perfect first quarter for the Heat. The team committed eight fouls with Chris Andersen and Shane Battier being whistled for two each. Meanwhile, the Nets were 4 of 5 from three-point range.
“We need to come out and get off to a good start here on the road,” Dwyane Wade said before the game. “I think the biggest thing for us is to not turn the ball over early and not let them get out in transition where they start hitting so many threes and get their game going.
“So, hopefully, we execute very well on the offensive end and give ourselves a chance, so we’re able to set our defense.”
• Wade has kept a close eye on the Pacers-Wizards series. Indiana lost the opener but has since won two games for a 2-1 series lead.
“They’re a team that has been tested,” Wade said. “They’ve been there. We have played them the last two years in the playoffs, so you see a team right now that is a tested team and is figuring out and they’re up 2-1 and in a good position.”
• Ray Allen was the Heat’s offensive catalyst in Games 1 and 2. Not only did he score 32 points combined in the first two games of the series, but he also helped shift the Nets’ defense just by being on the court, explained James before Game 3.
“It gets us all moving,” James said. “A guy like that, he attracts so much attention because of his ability to move without the ball, it automatically shifts the defense from one side to the other, so it’s definitely a luxury to have him.”
During his pregame news conference, Nets coach Jason Kidd called Allen the best shooter in the NBA and said the team would make defending Allen a priority for the remainder of the series. Allen had four points at halftime and finished with nine points, going 2 of 6 from the field.
• Heat guards Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole held Nets point guard Deron Williams scoreless in Game 2. Williams finished with nine points on Saturday night.
“You just try to keep a body on him and not let him get a lot of space to be able to create, and just corral him,” Chalmers said.