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Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert says he doesn’t regret “The Letter”

Feb 16, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown AP

When LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami nearly four years ago, emotions were obviously running pretty high. A lot of things that probably shouldn’t have been said were said. Media, fans, LeBron — it wasn’t handled all that well by anyone.

But let’s make one thing clear: no one handled himself as poorly as Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

Here’s a refresher on some of the more pointed comments Gilbert made in an open letter (that was written, quite famously, in Comic Sans font) to fans following LeBron’s departure:

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.


I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma. Just watch.

So, obviously, Gilbert was wrong. He behaved like a petulant child that just lost “his” toy, and he threw a temper tantrum in an idiotic and completely regrettable letter where nothing he said came true.

Of course, someone capable of making comments like that in the first place probably isn’t capable of showing humility, apologizing, or even saying he regrets what he said. Here’s what Gilbert told Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal when he was asked if he regretted “The Letter”:

I would’ve reworded the language in The Letter, but I don’t regret sending a letter out to our fan base. People forget the letter was not to LeBron, it was to our fan base. If I had to do it again, for sure, I would’ve reworded several parts of it. But I think it definitely needed a strong statement from me at that time. I keep a couple binders on my desk and I have a binder of the responses to The Letter from the people of Cleveland. For some reason, it appealed to this generational Cleveland thing. If you want to talk about books, someone should publish all the responses to The Letter. It was like, ‘We’re from Cleveland and we’ve been rejected.”

The Cavs will have max cap space this season. LeBron James could enter free agency. Not that I think LeBron is basing the future of his career on things Gilbert says in interviews, but wouldn’t fully apologizing when given the opportunity at least help a tiny smidge? Is there any scenario where Gilbert admitting what we all know to be true wouldn’t be better than him saying they should make a book based on the responses to his embarrassing letter?

The damage has already been done, of course, but Gilbert doesn’t get enough blame for slamming the door shut on a potential return. If he had just behaved like a rational adult, perhaps it would be possible (or even likely) at some point that LeBron would play for the Cavs once again.

Instead, Gilbert continues to be oblivious at best and delusional at worst. When asked by Lloyd if his letter had a negative impact on the organization over the last four years, Gilbert used third person to make his point, because of course he did:

You never know for sure, but I haven’t felt it or been aware of it. People said nobody would come here, that’s not true. Do I think any players are going to not come here because Dan wrote a letter three or four years ago? I don’t think so.

Maybe he’s right. Non-LeBron free agents might not care about the actual letter, but that’s missing the forest for the trees.

Free agents, at least guys better than Jarrett Jack, might not come to Cleveland because the owner’s ego clouds any rational judgment. Cleveland was supposed to win a title before LeBron. That was wrong. Cleveland was supposed to “not come back” to the lottery. That looks like it will be wrong, too.

Bottom line, Gilbert lets his mouth write checks that his brain can’t cash. That’s a problem if you’re picking your employer.

If Gilbert doesn’t care about the impact his words have on the organization, maybe this will get through instead. Stop talking, Dan — for your own sake.

  1. 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    He’s not going to sign with Cleveland this summer. Do yourselves a favor and come to terms with this. The fans of Cleveland were hurt once due to no fault of their own. If they allow themselves to get their hopes up this summer, and they get hurt again, it will be a self inflicted wound.

    I’d be shocked if he doesn’t re-sign in Miami. I know there’s always a (small) chance he won’t, but if he signs elsewhere it won’t be with Cleveland.

    Most Heat fans are also Dolphins and Marlins fans. We know garbage franchises when we see them. And The Cavs are garbage.

    • miamatt - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      I couldn’t have said it better myself. The dysfunction in Cleveland starts with him. Sad for Cavs fans, but true. Outside of drafting LBJ and Irving, who were the obvious consensus #1 picks in those respective drafts, there is nothing they have done right in the past 10+ years.

      Win a title before LBJ? The Cavs aren’t even going to make the playoffs before LeBron signs his next contract! That’s tough to do in the East.

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      How in the hell does this have more thumbs down than thumbs up? He’s staying in Miami at least until D-Wade retires, and probably after as well.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

        It’s all in tbe game, yo

      • cavsfan3 - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:29 PM

        It has more thumbs down then it has thumbs up for three reasons. The first paragraph was fine. I’m a Cavs fan and agree with that. There’s more than a small chance that he leaves Miami. Wade is getting over the hill, and Bosh might leave for a more premiere role. So he lost some credibility there. More of a 50/50 chance reasonably. Calling the Cavs “a garbage franchise” is unreasonable, because we’ve been a respectable franchise for many years. And @miamatt the Cavs are the second hottest team in the league, and we might sneak into the 7th spot where well get swept by you guys.

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 16, 2014 at 9:22 PM

      Seems to me many Heat fans are also Seahawks and Red Sox fans.

      • broncobeta - Feb 17, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        Lol. So true.

    • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      Hey I’m a heat fan, but im also an oakland raider, but hey i DEF know a garbage franchise when I see one…hopefully itll change this year (is my whish every year for the past ten years lol)

  2. jimthebuilder27 - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    Gilbert still doesn’t have a clue. The Cavs haven’t improved at all, and he hired a moron in head coach Mike Brown.

    He could have stated that he was disappointed in Lebron and moved on. He behaved like a spoiled rottom child and still does.

    Too bad the NBA can’t force this guy to leave the Cavs. The fans deserve better!

  3. detectivejimmymcnulty - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    How can he not regret it? Sounds like he has entirely too much pride. Being prideful isn’t a bad thing, but have too much is. People make mistakes, it’s ok to admit you made one.

  4. deadeyedesign23 - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    I love how much of a baby this moron is. There is nothing I like more than watching the Cavs flounder since LeBron got the chance to leave after spending 7 years in that garbage fire against his will.

    Here’s hoping no other talented player has the misfortune of being drafted to play in the “mistake by the lake”.

    • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      Harsh man…

  5. thenmoveback - Feb 16, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    And Lebron doesn’t regret his decision.

  6. givemethehighgear - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:17 PM

    Since Gilbert’s own-a-pro-basketball-team thing is working as well as a screen door on a battleship…he might have a future writing promos for professional wrestlers.

  7. bellerophon30 - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    With Wade’s knees, don’t bet serious money on James signing in Miami this summer…….but I think that’s what it would take to get him to leave, some kind of serious Wade injury that has him contemplating retirement.

    No Dan Gilbert didn’t do himself and his franchise any favors though, both with the letter and the refusal to walk most of it back. He’ll get a marquee free agent only when the money is totally in his favor, meaning an Al Jefferson type overpay. Otherwise it’s Jarrett Jack’s from here on in.

    • gofinsgoheatfloria - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      Wade’s retiring would change the landscape some, yes, but LeBron’s decision wouldn’t be between a Wade-less Heat and this Heat; it would be between a Wade-less Heat with Pat Riley still running the place and any other franchise at that point in time. The Heat don’t necessarily lose in that scenario.

    • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      honestly if wade retired (which he wont) that would free the books up in cap for us to add more around Lebron for the money..

  8. patsfan92 - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    well he’s staying in miami for sure lol

  9. Kevin S. - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    You know what hurts the chances of LeBron returning a hell of a lot more than Dan Gilbert’s ego? Whiffing on three of their four top-four picks over the past three years. It’s not realistic to expect a Durant-Westbrook-Harden run, but they needed to do better than Kyrie and two bench players.

  10. thetooloftools - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    So I guess the NBA All Star game has turned into Iggerfest.
    Good by NBA.
    Ball I like.
    Ghetto Ball I will walk on.

  11. ProBasketballPundit - Feb 16, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    I would like to take this opportunity to brag about being right about the Cavaliers. I seemed to be the only person who didn’t predict Cleveland to make the playoffs this season. People just don’t realize how bad of a coach Mike Brown is. And they hadn’t been even respectable on defense since LeBron left. Why would that magically change?

  12. canadatude - Feb 16, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    LeBron’s drug dealer was in Miami. He had to move closer to the main supply————– for his crew.

  13. tomtravis76 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    Cleveland bringing back LeBron, no chance. Cavs should be prepared to lose kyrie, he is splitting the first chance he gets, and he might force a trade. Cleveland is a terrible city for young people, especially young rich athletes.

  14. sportsfan18 - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    It’s a sad fact of life that billionaires RARELY ever have to regret ANYTHING in their lives. End of discussion.

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