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Dan Gilbert sounds more reasonable now, but he can't get the high ground back

Jul 12, 2010, 2:07 PM EDT

dgilbert.jpgDan Gilbert flew off the handle Thursday night and said some things he’d like to take back. We’ve all been there.

We also know you can’t take them back. You live with it. Gilbert got personal in calling out LeBron James, gave up the high moral ground and lost any chance to be the sympathetic figure in all this.

Gilbert spoke with Ian Thompson of Sports Illustrated after sleeping on it for a few days, and if he sounded like this the night of the incident, he might have garnered that sympathy.

“We really believed until the end that he was staying,” Gilbert said. “We were pretty shocked, to be honest with you.

“When [LeBron and his advisers] announced they were going to do [the team presentations] in Cleveland and not go on their tour, for us that was another sign that this guy and these guys can’t muster enough energy to go on the road — how is he going to move? Going through the process, we felt really good. We felt our meeting went good, and we had another meeting at his house 10 days or two weeks before that.

“The last few days when it got set up in Connecticut [to broadcast his announcement], we couldn’t figure it out. It was just very bizarre. Why is he going to the Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn.? We started thinking to ourselves, it doesn’t make sense. We can’t think he’s going to go on national TV and build it up and humiliate and disgrace Cleveland, Ohio, by saying he’s leaving. The only way he comes out of this positive is if he announces he’s staying, because otherwise he’s going to destroy himself. That was our thought process. We knew it was more than a 50-70 percent chance he was going to stay.”

They were wrong. Then Gilbert was wrong calling LeBron narcissistic and cowardly. LeBron made his choice, and while you can question how he went about the announcement, the choice was his.

Gilbert even said Cleveland would win a title before Miami.

“I know I made that crazy promise,” the Cavaliers’ owner said of his response to the departure of LeBron James, “but it was more of a rallying cry to get people to rally around that message.”

That doesn’t mean he is backing off that promise, though.

“I don’t think their experiment is going to work,” he said. “But that’s just me. I just don’t see Dwyane Wade and LeBron James gelling together on the court.”

Seems reasonable. Now. But it’s too late.

  1. Lion Woods - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    Yes it has. A little surprising that the league would let Gilbert’s rants and/or comments go unchecked.

  2. HARRY - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:42 PM


  3. TPS - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    Dan Gilbert and Mel Gibson should do lunch. Then they should hold a press conference.

  4. Chip Handon - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    We president now.

  5. Chris M from Los Angeles - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    I liked his first letter better. He need say nothing more. Cleveland deserved to keep LeBrat. They catered to him for 7 seasons and kissed his butt far more than they should have. Dan Gilbert simply said what everyone else was thinking after 72 straight hours of ESPN’s LeBrat watch 2010. The guy has won NOTHING yet. He looked like he tanked it against Boston. He want’s to be treated like Jordan, but he needs to earn the rings in his home town for that. Getting rings as D-Wade’s sidekick makes LeBrat Pippen…not Jordan. Just saying.

  6. AngelP - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    ROFL, TdUB, first of all did it happen??? Second of all, you must have never played sports. IF that was true, you still play the game. When I played sports, NOTHING deterred me from thinking ONLY about playing my best and trying my utmost to win. True athletes go into a zone at game-time. Anyone that intentionally loses a game because of something like that is not a winner…..sorry.

  7. Joel - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    Hey Dan, How much $$$$$ did LeBron make you?

  8. utteke - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    Subject: The New LeBron Commercials
    Check out this video on YouTube:

  9. Joe - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Well put. Because of the media so many people in this day and age love to critique and tell people how to live their lives. Lebron is only 25 but that is easily forgotten because as a superstar he is somehow expected to be perfect.

  10. Nick - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    LeBron can lick my filthy…
    DWade is still the ugliest man in the NBA
    Looking forward to when the Heat travel north to play the Cavs this fall. Will put extra butter on my popcorn and get ready to watch the riots

  11. T- Will - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    1. How did Lebron disgrace the NBA? He complied with his contractual terms.
    2. If Gilbert was honest, his honesty contradicts his actions. If he believed Lebron blew a game(s), why offer him max contract and never say anything until, Lebron decided to leave. It seems disingenuous.
    3. You claim he wasn’t being himself because he didn’t score 50pts a game! Maybe he expected one of the other scrubs on that team to make a wide open shot ( aka- Mo Williams )!
    4. Lebron stating he loves Akron/ Cleveland is personal…this was a BUSINESS decision. Business cannot be controlled by personal emotions.
    5. Regarding his elbow, a strain/ ligament or nerve damage cannot be diagnosed by an x-ray or other exams. The way he dunks the ball so hard can easily cause ligament/ nerve discomfort….which he still played thru. He could have justifiably sat down,if he wanted to throw a game. Because the other scrubs on the team cant collectively score more than 50 pts a game, against a playoff team.
    6. I don’t think he has ever referred to himself as ” King James “. The media and Cleveland fans threw that name around. Cleveland fans had no problem referring to him as the King as long as he wanted to be a puppet, on a terrible team, with the worst owner in the history of professional sports.
    7. If the owner treated one of the best players in the league like a ” RUNAWAY SLAVE ” because he could not buy him off the auction block, what makes you think anyother Black superstar calibre player will play on the Cleveland plantation anytime soon. Remember there are only a select few superstar white players in the league. Also note, most of the upper echelon Black players are VERY close friends.
    So, I would argue, Cleveland experienced more success with Lebron than you will experience anytime in the near future ( 10 – 20 years ).

  12. ron - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    lebron is and ass and idiot. he did not have to do it that way. he hurt is so called brand.nobody has ever talked mean to baby lebron. to bad, for the spiled brat. imagin him promising 7 titles and does not even own one. it is very easy to say, try actually doing it than talk about in third person. you can say at your press conference lebron likes winning title.

  13. Marcus - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    What kills me is this guy is not even from Ohio. And he live in Mich. What a A-hole.

  14. PETE - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:06 PM


  15. chi-mb - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    i can understand his frustration. First off, the team did everything they could to win a championship. Because of Lebrons unwillingness to commit, it made the Cavs very difficult to bring in free agents. They were forced to getting people through trades for short term winning. In turn, they lost plenty of draft picks (future stars). This is the sole reason they couldnt bring in stars to play with James. The team gave everything Lebron wanted. A personal Masseuse to travel with him, friends on the payroll, friends on floor seats, friends flying with him to games, a practice facility practically in his back yard so he can have less commute, a rebuilt locker room, even firing the coach thinking James wanted a change. Sure Lebron brought in a lot of revenue, but James also was well taken care of by the organization. If I invested that much into someone only to walk out with giving them 5 minutes notice, I think I might be upset as well. Then you look at how he played the series with Boston, and at some point it all feels like it makes sense that Lebron could have thrown those games. He shouldnt have went off the way he did, just as Lebron shouldnt have gone on national tv to leave Cleveland.

  16. Solong Lebron - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Please what Dan Gilbert said was stupid but fine him. How much do we fine every player(foot,basket,baseball) that gets caught with a gun, domestic violence, rape charges and other criminal actions? All we ever see is athletes doing stupid stuff the couple times an owner does it we go carzy. After all these are the people that are paying the athletes and putting their wealth on the line.

  17. Texodus - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Lebron gave Cleveland more in 7 years, than it’s franchise has in it’s entire history. Do you remember ever seeing Cavs’ jerseys, or broadcasted games on tv ( not since Jordan took em out the playoffs ). To see jerseys burning & hear Gilberts remarks is appalling, you should be happy for what Lebron did for your city, & he should still be an inspiration to the youth. You Knick fans need to chill out too…

  18. Cheryl Hopkins - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    I am from Akron. Been a Cavs/Browns/Indians fan my whole life. Dan Gilbert flew off the handle with his emotional letter. But for me, he was the voice that let the world know how all of us here in Cavs territory felt that night. We felt punched in the gut. LBJ embarrassed us by going on national TV and pouring the water on our fire. We are calloused and we are tough here. We are used to disappointment. But man, oh man, this one hurt. I felt more rational the next day, sure. And I am sure Gilbert did too. But that in the moment lashing out made me feel better, if only for a minute.

  19. LBsa MeDiaHore - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Huge mural of LeBron James removed from side of downtown building in Cleveland. A Nike spokesman said he did not know what the company plans to do with the sign.
    Creative employment: Have Nike call Kimberly Clark. Maybe the sign can be blended with other paper and cut into little pieces (employment) then packaged as axe wipe and sold at a discount to Cleveland. They would probably buy the whole supply.
    Oh, and we saw the J Jackasson photo op coming.
    He’s hip to the Rahm slogan, “You just can’t let a crisis go to waste.” Maybe when he’s done cutting off bamao’s balls he can go for Dan’s.

  20. Dustin - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    LeBron full-filled his contract. He played for 7 years without the perfect pieces to win a championship. Its yet to be seen if wade/bosh and the rest of the heat are those pieces, but its worth a shot. Clearly Lebron & company didnt think the Cavs would spend the $$$ get the pieces so I dont blame him for leaving.. Im a LeBron fan but i do think going on tv to tell where he was going was wrong. (after all he is a kid with $100s as toilet paper)Maybe after time this will settle but get over it Dan, you made your self look really bad

  21. Ohgator - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    Everyone wants to leave Cleveland, manufacturing, professional football and now Lebron. Cleveland is dead city, it just too stupid to realize it.

  22. dsmith4444 - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    Why was Gilbert wrong? he was right. and F-U Jesse Jackson, Gilbert can get his moral high ground from someone other than a Philandering Christian Preacher that is one of the biggest hypocrits this side of Mars. LeBron is a fraud and a whiner. he didn’t outsmart anyone. Does anyone really think being Wades biatch is attractive? Wait a few months and then tell me. As far a NIKE and the sports agency group that phenagled this bagel in Cleveland, both are finished. They all look like opportunistic vultures, but Dan, he just said what we were all thinking. LeBron is a fraud.

  23. givemeabreak - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    Really!!!! Everything that you just said was racist! It is high time that the race card stops being used. Racist goes both ways! Oh BTW it isn’t slavery…he is getting paid millions to play a game, not pick cotton for bread and water….GET AN EDUCATION! I agree that Dan went overboard in his comments, but once again “King James” did fulfill his promises. Why not insult the “King” for trying to portray what everyone would believe to be a slam against MLK!

  24. John Yannelli - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    Sorry, an owner finally says what was on his mind, no pulled punches. A tired two weeks to a month of LeBron crap. Who wanted to hear it any more? Overpaid, overhyped nonsense. Who cares if he wins. In retrospect, I simply don’t see Koby having done anything like this. All Koby ever did was win win and win some more with a variety of team mates. I know who is best now. I also know who has class and it is not LeBron and WWW and all of the rest of the LeBron possee. For those of us who scrape by in this lousey exconomy, and go to jobs everyday with little hope of really getting ahead, that was a slap in the face to watch ESPN and it’s falling all over the self proclaimed “King”. How many rings you got King? You got an NCAA ring, NO, you didn’t go to college. You got an NBA ring? No, you lost. Give me Kobe and give me class in terms of an athlete. Derek Jeter, thats class!!!!!

  25. Cavs fan before LeBum - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    OK. What planet are you from? You own a business and your top salesman quits without giving you two weeks notice? He’s free to do it but it is absolutely classless. How much have the Cavaliers paid him over seven years? $100 million? LeBron has stopped being a person and is now just a brand. I was a Cavs fan before LeBum was born and I’ll continue to give my allegiance to the organization. Remember Mark Price, Brad Dougherty, Hot Rod Williams, Bingo Smith, World B Free and Austin Carr? They would never have bit the hand that fed them so well while they were a Cleveland Cavalier. And please no smart comment about “Who were those guys?” It’ll only let the world know that you have the same values as Jesse Jackson.

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