(CNN) - Former Cleveland mayor and current Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich weighed in Friday on the Lebron James free-agency saga, admitting that James "was the beneficiary of a status in Cleveland that only a few athletes ever achieved." And in what many basketball experts might consider a bold prediction, Kucinich said that Cleveland would "surprise the NBA with its resilience" next year.
"I think the other players are going to have a chance to show their potential," Kucinich said on CNN's John King, USA. "I mean you could imagine for some of the tremendous athletes who are part of the Cleveland Cavaliers, in many ways they have to be in the shadow of one extraordinarily gifted athlete. And now they'll have a chance to come forward, and you may actually see the kind of chemistry that can produce the kind of teamwork that will be essential to win."
Touting Cleveland's strong emotional commitment to its sports teams, Kucinich acknowledged that some might say the Cavs will be "at a great disadvantage" next season, but he added that life will go on in his home city.
"This town wants a winner and invested a lot in Lebron James, it backed him, it helped pay his salary," Kucinich said. "So, are there hard feelings? Yes. Strong emotions? You bet there are. But will Cleveland bounce back? Of course we will. This is a strong city and a strong sports community and the fans are the best. And you know the Cavs have the support of the community and an owner who is determined to deliver. So the team will come back, no question about it."
Kucinich cited estimates that placed the economic impact of James' departure on the City of Cleveland somewhere between $38 and $48 million, but he was quick to point out that much of that money is generated by the entire Cavs team, not James alone.
"We still have a team and the team is going to be supported," Kucinich said. "Cleveland will rally behind the rest of those athletes …I don't think that you're going to find anyone talking about us closing up shop because we lost one athlete."