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Jeff Gravley

Cavs owner speaks his mind

Posted July 9, 2010

LeBron James left his hometown team, Cleveland, to play for the Miami Heat. Television images showed some Clevelanders burning LeBron's #23 jersey. On my drive home at midnight I listened to WTAM 1100, a Cleveland sports talk radio station. One host called James a punk.

Emotions run high throughout Cleveland.

"He (LeBron) has gotten a free pass. People have covered up for him for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is." That venom wasn't from a radio call-in from Ken in Parma. That's from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert !

LeBron never called his former boss to inform him of the decision. "It's not about him leaving," Gilbert said. "It's the disrespect. It's time for people to hold these athletes accountable for their actions. Is this the way you raise your children? I've been holding this all in for a long time."

Sore loser or is Gilbert speaking the truth?

He claims LeBron quit on his team in games 2,4,5 and 6 of the Boston series. "Watch the tape," Gilbert added. "The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."

Then in a letter to Cavalier fans, Dan Gilbert may have made a statement that he can't deliver.

"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE"

"You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal," Gilbert wrote.

I knew this would be the reaction from Cleveland fans if LeBron left. But I never expected these statements to come from their owner.

Look out Mark Cuban, you have a rival !

I do feel for the fans in Cleveland. I worked there from 2000-2003. LeBron was in high school then at nearby Akron. He would grow into a household name across the country BEFORE he left St. Vincent-St.Mary high school.

We would often banter back and forth, whether it would be a good thing for LeBron to play for his hometown Cavs. All of the pressure coupled with all of the expectations from a city that hasn't had a victory parade since 1964.

He took on the challenge and flourished. So did the Cavs.

Large pockets of empty seats at Gund arena began to fill up when LeBron suited up for Cleveland. Prior to his arrival, I saw three sellouts in three years at the Gund. (1) When Shaq and Kobe came to town. (2) When Michael Jordan came back. (3) When LeBron played a high school game at the Gund.

LeBron won a pair of MVP awards but couldn't deliver the city a championship. NBA titles don't visit many cities. Think about it, since 1980, only 8 NBA franchises have won NBA championships.

Like a groom before his wedding, LeBron will go ring shopping in Miami. Cleveland is in recovery mode but it's a city that is accustomed to sports hangovers. The drive in 1986, the fumble in 87, the shot in 89, the single in 97 and now the departure in 2010.

O.I.C.

Only in Cleveland.

C-town, you have every right to be upset.

13 Comments

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  • duane11 Jul 14, 10:33 p.m.

    LeBron should have had the courage and fortitude to tell the manangement that he was going to... View More

    — Posted by Hokies94

    I diagree with you because he has aIready for fuII his contract to the Cav. So can i ask you... View More

    — Posted by conrad27713

    yeah!..where is Larry Nance!!!

  • conrad27713 Jul 13, 10:16 a.m.

    LeBron should have had the courage and fortitude to tell the manangement that he was going to... View More

    — Posted by Hokies94

    I diagree with you because he has aIready for fuII his contract to the Cav. So can i ask you this question ? Why arent there any great ex Cav stiII around this organization Iike some other teams do with theirs ?

  • peyton1717 Jul 13, 8:40 a.m.

    As a Cavs fan I am glad he is gone. Now maybe some of the other great players on the team will have a chance to show their talent. The Cavs will be fine. As for Lebron, not telling mgmt his decision before the "Big" announcement was wrong and very cowardly. The Cavs deserved at least that much from Lebron. Those 3 players being on the Heat will not guarantee a ring either. It is sports and anything can happen. Did anyone have the Lakers and Boston back in the finals this year - NO. They had the Cavs there and well we all know what happened there. We will have to see what plays out this year with all the updated NBA teams.

  • hball57 Jul 12, 1:51 p.m.

    First of all, if LeBron never talked to Cleveland from teh end of the season, how did Cleveland know when to come by for their presentation?

    The fans and the media like to have things both ways. if he stays in Cleveland he is taking the money over winning. Now he is scared to try and lead his team, doesn't want to be ultimately response, making a "punk" move. What a bunch of hypocrites!

    WE all have teh right to choose where we want to work - even LeBron!

  • Ken D. Jul 10, 7:01 p.m.

    I have a few questions for Dan Gilbert. Did he interview any free agents? If Dwayne Wade had offered to come to Cleveland to help them win a championship, would Gilbert have turned him down because he was being disloyal to Miami? If LeBron were a lesser player whose contract had expired, would he have been offered a max contract because he had been loyal to Cleveland for seven years?

  • Ken D. Jul 10, 6:37 p.m.

    I also believe that James tried very hard to bring those players to Cleveland. Predictably, that was a hard sell. After Gilbert's outburst, it will be an even tougher sell. Just maybe, James didn't have all that high an opinion of his owner before he made his decision.

  • Ken D. Jul 10, 6:12 p.m.

    i wonder if Gilbert had 2 speeches prepared, one praising lebron for staying, and the other... View More

    — Posted by duane11

    That's a good point. I wondered, if LeBron was all the horrible things Gilbert said about him, why did Cleveland offer him so much money to stay?

  • Hokies94 Jul 10, 5:07 p.m.

    LeBron should have had the courage and fortitude to tell the manangement that he was going to cut loose. That's all he had to do. His ego got in the way. I have lost respect for him at this point. I hope they lose down there. Go Bobcats.

  • duane11 Jul 10, 10:01 a.m.

    i wonder if Gilbert had 2 speeches prepared, one praising lebron for staying, and the other blasting him for randy moss-like behavior....once these guys are mega-rich, do they really care what anyone thinks?

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Jul 9, 9:38 p.m.

    I agree that sports have gotten out of hand in this country. Pro athletes are paid obscene amounts of money while our country is struggling with war and a horrible economy. College coaches are paid mega millions while classrooms crumble and professors are underpaid.

    As for LeBron, well, he played his best for seven years and to feel that he "owed" Cleveland is unfair. He wants to win a Championship. Yes, he will be ring shopping in South Beach, but the honeymoon may be short lived if he can't produce that Championship - and soon - with the talent he brings to the court joining D Wade and Chris Bosh to make it a three ring circus. I'm glad the "LeBron-a-thon" is over. I've seen enough. I can't help but think we fans are partly responsible for creating the monster that Pro Sports have become. Even some high school players are tainted. Unfortunately, to see "pure sports" I may have to go down to the middle school level. Everyone loves a winner, but at what cost? I'd gladly take less talent on the court in exchange for more effort in the classroom.

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