Every step along the way in his quest to make Miami care about Major League Soccer, David Beckham has tried to tangentially tie LeBron James to the project.
When Beckham first floated the idea of another MLS franchise in South Florida, he did it while also making public appearances at Heat playoff games. With the Heat leading the Pacers 91-65 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, James made time during a stoppage in play to shake Beckham’s hand and give Beckham’s billionaire backer, Marcelo Claure, a fist pound.
The handshake was a welcoming to the city just as this latest tie between Beckham, James and the MLS is an important, albeit mostly symbolic, gesture. James confirmed Monday he is involved in an “open dialogue” with Beckham about possibly owning a share of an MLS franchise in Miami. The Daily Mail first reported the story.
“There is some interest on both sides,” said James, who already owns a small share of Liverpool FC. “David has become a good friend of mine over the last few years and I think it would be great for this city to have a football club. There is interest on both sides, but it’s preliminary talks.”
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For Beckham, having one of the most recognizable athletes in the world on board to market the MLS to Miami is just another important step in a very difficult and complicated process of making sure the product thrives in South Florida. James was wise to call it a “football club,” because the verdict is still out on whether or not Miami will support “soccer.”
So far, James likes what Beckham is selling, but he isn’t completely sold on the idea. Asked what he thought of the potential for MLS in Miami, James said, “We don’t know.”
“The research is still being made out, but I think it could be huge,” James said. “But, you never know. I think this is a great town for soccer. There are a lot of soccer players here. There’s a great youth [system] of soccer here. And people love the city as well, so that definitely will help.”
If anyone can bridge the divide between Miami’s love of international soccer and the city’s tepidity for the sport’s domestic variant, it’s Beckham, who first created a buzz for Major League Soccer when he signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. Beckham’s deal with MLS, which owns all players’ contracts, gave him the option to start a franchise at a discounted rate upon his retirement. Beckham retired this summer and almost immediately began laying the groundwork for an MLS club in Miami.
But plenty of work remains before MLS awards Beckham and Miami with an expansion franchise, including the most important aspect of the bid. Securing a permanent home for a potential team in an attractive part of town could make or break the deal.
James, now apparently an insider to Beckham’s plans, indicated nothing is certain at this point. Asked if he felt like Miami is definitely going to land a team, he said, “We don’t know. I don’t know.”
“It’s like buying a house,” James said. “You don’t know until you sign the papers.”
Dwyane Wade said Monday he didn’t plan on playing in Saturday’s game against Charlotte but was called into emergency service when the NBA suspended Mario Chalmers. Wade went 1 of 7 from the field, scored four points and went to the locker room in the third quarter.
“I’ve just got to be smart,” Wade said. “The other night with Rio going out, it made my decision harder. I didn’t plan on playing on that [second night of the] back-to-back but I did and you continue to learn and understand that my knee wasn’t ready for that.”
Wade had OssaTron shock wave therapy to his knee this summer. It’s a process that ultimately stimulates healing but also causes soreness similar to tendonitis during the rehabilitation period. Rashard Lewis had the procedure last summer and struggled through much of the 2012-13 season. This season, Lewis has returned to form.
“It’s great to have a teammate who just went through it,” Wade said. “You can kind of talk to him and say, ‘Man, what the hell is going on?’ and he can kind of give you a little bit of information if you’re feeling the same way. It will give you a little hope as well, knowing that it did turn around.”
Lewis said Wade initially is going to struggle on the second nights of back to backs, but “he’ll feel a lot better off come January and February.”
“It’s a six-month healing process,” Lewis said. “Right now he’s still going through that process of rehabbing and healing. I did the same thing last year during the season. My knees weren’t as strong as they are this year, but it’s going to take time and patience but next year he’ll be feeling a lot better.”
Lewis said it was tough for him to practice last season, never mind trying to star in games like Wade.
“You can’t spring off your knees, you can’t cut, you can’t jump,” Lewis said.
Wade set a career high for steals (eight) on Friday before struggling Saturday.