Dec 1, 2010, 7:13 PM EDT
So Dan Gilbert is over LeBron leaving? Riiiiiight.
The Cleveland Cavaliers owner has spent several hundred thousand dollars to pay a team of attorneys to build a tampering case against the Heat that he can then present to the NBA, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
The NBA won’t launch an investigation into a tampering case without a formal request from a team, but sources say Gilbert’s plan is to give commissioner David Stern a detailed case that includes meetings, phone calls and contingency plans that date as far back as 2008. Gilbert will implore Stern to use his powers as commissioner to get access to phone records and testimony of key people surrounding Heat president Pat Riley, James and others potentially involved.
Gilbert officially declined comment on the report.
The release of this story the day before James returns to Cleveland by Wojnarowski — who has been hard on LeBron James, to put it mildly — makes the cynic in us come to the fore. There may well be some truth here, but take this with a few grains of salt is what we are saying. The timing of this certainly should play well in Cleveland… but certainly that is just a coincidence.
Tampering would be very hard to prove. No Heat player or representative — that includes Dwyane Wade — could talk to LeBron James or his representatives about the specifics of him and Chris Bosh coming to Miami prior to July 1. However, that is very different than the three of them saying, “we should all play together” at the Olympics.
The report is that the attorneys are targeting “an alleged Riley-James meeting in Miami in November 2009, and a meeting of James’ inner circle with Wade in Chicago in June 2010, sources said.” So, an alleged meeting well before the Heat knew exactly how much cap space they would have available, and Wade meeting with James’ team — who met with a whole lot of people — are what we are focusing on here? There may be some smoke, but proving a fire is a very different thing.
If tampering were proven, the penalties could be severe, including losses of draft picks and suspensions for front office personnel.
There is a river of back-channel communications in the NBA. A Mississippi of such talk. To pull out parts of these things and prove tampering is a tall order.
But if you’re Gilbert, it’s something that plays well with the home fan base on the eve of James’ return.