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Report: LeBron James still upset by Dan Gilbert’s infamous letter

Jul 11, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

LeBron James LeBron James

LeBron James has never been arrested. He’s never gotten into a public feud with teammates or coaches. He’s never become embroiled in any controversy away from basketball.

However, he once changed teams as a free agent.

For that, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote, “This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown ‘chosen one’ sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And ‘who’ we would want them to grow-up to become.”

The sting of those harsh words doesn’t fade easily.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

One reason, if not the major reason, that LeBron James has taken so long to decide whether to play in Miami or Cleveland next season is the infamous letter Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert penned about James after the superstar left Cleveland in 2010, sources said.

“If it wasn’t for that letter, this would’ve been done awhile ago,” one source said.

I wouldn’t blame LeBron for still holding a grudge over that letter – especially because, as of this year, Gilbert was still defending it and the Cavaliers’ official website was still hosting it.

But I question the timing of this leak. If LeBron were still so upset by the letter, how did the Cavaliers remain in contention for his services so long?

Neither the Cavaliers nor Heat offer all positives or all negatives. If one did, LeBron would have already made his decision. LeBron could still pick Cleveland and remain furious about the letter. No matter which team he picks, he’s not going to a perfect situation. He must weigh what matters most to him.

But the letter was released four years ago. LeBron should have been factoring it – and Gilbert’s presence – all along. Why is it suddenly getting more consideration now?

Maybe LeBron is leaning toward returning to the Heat, and he’s laying the groundwork for that decision. The letter gives LeBron a reasonable reason to reject Cleveland, and he might want everyone focused on that, even though there are obviously more considerations in play.

I don’t know. It’s just a theory.

I do know Gilbert’s letter was heinous, and I still haven’t gotten over the disgustingness of the tone. (See, if that were LeBron’s strategy, it’s working.)

  1. c2poke88 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Who said the Cavs were ever actually “in contention” for Lebron’s services? The Cavs were only 1 team Lebron’s agent sat down with. Lebron himself had a face-to-face with only 1 team, and that was the Miami Heat. There were reports that his agent, friends and wife were pressuring him to return to Cleveland. But Lebron never gave any indication that he was “leaning” toward returning to the Cavs. The speculations that he was 85% or 90% likely to return to Cleveland was just the media pulling numbers out of their @sses. The Cavs cleared enough cap space to offer Lebron the max. But Lebron still hasn’t had direct communication with the Cavs owner, GM or new head coach. There has been absolutely no foundation behind the ‘Cleveland Is Favored To Reclaim The King’ narrative. Think about it. What has Lebron said or done in the past week that would suggest Cleveland has been the front runner? Absolutely NOTHING. smdh

    • hartdaddy - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      It’s absurd, players these days become victims of pure speculation, Lebron hasn’t spoken about FA & for we know hasn’t given it a thought as of yesterday (the day players are allowed to sign), yet this suspense & anticipation of where he will sign has gone on since he opted out. This dude meanwhile is in Brazil on vacation watching the world cup. He’s living life & all these differing reports got us ordinary people losing sleep?

    • chief0727 - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      I guess the counter argument would be what has LeBron done in the past week to lead anyone to believe he is returning to Miami? He met with Riley 2 days ago but has not signed, or given an intent to sign with the Heat. In fact to paraphrase you, what has LeBron said or done in the past week that would suggest Miami has been the front runner? Absolutely NOTHING. The speculation that you refer to about the media just ” pulling numbers out of their @sses” is the same type speculation that this article is premised upon. This “source” says LeBron’s still upset about a stupid letter. How do we know this “source” is not the source who told Broussard it was 85% certain LeBron was going to Cleveland. LeBron will go where LeBron wants to go. Miami, Cleveland, LA, Chicago, or Timbucktoo.

      • daddyb1gdrawz - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        Well, for one it is known to everyone Lebron was upset by that letter. In the wake of the Sterling fiasco and Lebron’s stance on it you want to make an arguement he is not still bothered by it? That in no way symbolizes Lebron is leaning to Miami or Cleveland. Hell, he may sign with the Lakers or Bulls. Bottomline is no one knows. I believe c2poke offers an objective response to the Cleveland fan who is completely jumping the gun for an individual who has not given any indication he is leaning toward returning.

      • cwilson6843 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        I think its pretty clear Miami has been his preference. That’s the reason he’s giving Riley and the heat time to add pieces. I think if arison cuts the bs and go into the luxury tax LeBron would have signed back a while ago. Like I said before my opinion is it comes down to arison wanting to spend money to keep this core. If arison doesn’t budge I think LeBron goes back home with a young core with a lot of hope. That young cavs team just needs a vet leader who can keep them focused. I don’t know though just my opinion. Not a fan of the heat but I hope some way he does stay on Miami

    • kindasporty - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      And to further your point, nobody thought that he was going to Miami 4 years ago.

    • redskins21lakers24 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Looks like you was wrong buddy

    • trickybastard - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      How stupid does your rant look now? The only one pulling stuff out their @ss appears to have been you lol

  2. rhett16 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    It does seem that this leak was planned to try and make Cleveland fans think of Gilbert as the bad guy later today when James signs with Miami.

    I just hope this all gets done soon so that Brian Windhorst can go crawl back under whatever bridge he lives under, that guy is absolutely painful to listen to.

    • takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      This has the smell of a Riley “leak” all over it. Clearly, the letter was a poor decision on Gilberts part, but the entire Decision debacle was poorly handled by all sides, and LeBron is smart enough to see that. This decision will come down to him going where he feels he will have the best team around him. Period. It was quite clear that he felt he did not have a strong enough team around him this year. Riles needed to convince him that he could improve the roster, and I don’t think he’s convinced or this would be done already. Also, his personal feelings for Gilbert aside, LeBron knows that the Cavs owner will spend whatever it takes, unlike Arison who clearly is unwilling to pay the luxury tax. Lastly, LeBron did meet with the Cavs last Sunday. Not sure why people don’t believe that. Do you really think Gilbert flew his jet ro South Beach for no reason?

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        You have the smell of a Riley leak all over you

        Seem kinda pissed about it?

      • takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        @Jimmy marlins fan

        Not pissed at all, I’m just a realistic Cavs fan. Hope he comes back, but not really optimistic he will. Was I pissed when he left in 2010? More disappointed in how he did it than anything. Wish he would have just come out and been up front about leaving, but it is what it is. I’ll be thrilled if he returns to Cleveland, but not surprised at all if he doesn’t.

      • doc305 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        Micky has already paid into the luxury tax. He in fact has gone on record that he would be more than willing to again if Miami could compete for titles. History actually contradicts the entirety of your statement. What did Gilbert do when he DID have Lebron?? Low ball offer Boozer, get a 35 year Shaq?
        Do you really believe that people only go to South Beach for business??? You are aware that it is a pretty popular vacation destination right??

      • takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:00 PM


        Really? So Arison cut Miller because he was willing to spend? And Boozer was gone during the previous ownership, not Gilberts. Please try to get your facts straight before you continue your nonsense. Oh, and apparently South Beach ain’t all it’s cracked up to be since the best player on the planet just chose Ohio.

      • takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        And, the Shaq signing was at LeBron request.

  3. shaab23 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Unbelievable. Just yesterday morning, Stephan A. was all but guaranteeing that Lebron is heading back to CLE. Now this. For Lebron’s sake, I hope he goes back to CLE, just so there is no bounty on his head if he decides to resign with the Heat

    • adoombray - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Cleveland as a city is too used to losing to bother with all that. besides, in that circumstance, it would be on the media, not Bron…

  4. c2poke88 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    After Lebron & Melo finally make their decisions, I can’t wait for the ‘Winners & Losers’ articles that follows. The biggest loser ought to be the media, followed by the infamous “unnamed sources” that supposedly drive the inaccurate reports and rampant speculation we’ve gotten from the media since July 1. You could have asked a bunch of women who know nothing about the NBA to guess what Lebron and Melo would do, and they would have been more accurate than the media has been the past 10 days. Pathetic!

  5. reesesteel23 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Pat Riley printed off a copy of the letter, put it in front of Lebron and said, “Here, read that. It’s us or them.”

  6. whalesarenotmammals - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    The “letter” is a great life lesson for everyone about acting on emotion and not thinking about the second and third order effects of your actions.

  7. kastout11 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    It is a foregone conclusion, Lebron is going back to Cleveland. Two reasons, they have a brighter future than Miami and his wife wants to Cleveland. He has already made up his mind. People are just searching for reasons why he has not announced it yet. The comments from a hurt owner who just lost the best player in the world, should not still be held against Gilbert. However, if he does not go back to Cleveland because of Gilbert’s letter, Cleveland should be upset at Gilbert, not Lebron.

    • casualcommenter - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      If he actually made up his mind, he literally has no reason to not tell Cleveland as soon as possible.

      Cleveland needs to kick their trade talks about Kevin Love in high gear if LeBron comes to Cleveland and/or look adding a few veteran role players to their mostly very young roster.

      The most likely scenario is that LeBron hasn’t chosen, and sources are now just feeding random bits of information to reporters to keep them happy after promising LeBron would have a decision by yesterday.

    • jimmymarlinsfan - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      Do the cavs have Riley? No?

      Then they do not have a brighter future. Period and end of story

      The Heat have won more consecutive division titles in their history than the cavs have division titles. Think about that for a second and explain why this time is going to be different

    • kinggw - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      Why are you so sure that Cleveland has a brighter future, because they keep ending up in the lottery? They definitely have a younger core, its a real stretch to say they have a brighter future.

      The reality is this, there are no guarantees on that roster. Kyrie Irving is overrated and not the best fit with James. He doesn’t do well without the ball and is a god awful defender, and while he may improve he’s not going to become a strong defender over the next two or three years. The rest of their roster is full of question marks. The core of this team couldn’t make the playoffs but they are going to be prepared to win titles in LBJ comes aboard, right.

      Gilbert’s letter should be held against him, especially since it was only removed from the Cavs website a few days ago and he has never apologized for it.

  8. huskersrock1 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    If this it true LeBron needs to grow up.

  9. wordyduke - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    The appealing features. Miami, continuity, playing on a team stocked with veterans. Cleveland, return to home, a younger and almost surely a better and improving roster 2-3 years from now.

    The liabilities. Miami, Arison wouldn’t spend last year what was needed to provide an adequate big man or bench. Cleveland, Gilbert. (Does the NBA have “good” owners? LeBron warned the players at the time of the last CBA they were giving too much away. LeBron was among the first to speak out clearly about Sterling.)

    Why the waiting? We don’t know what Cleveland may have told LeBron it will do to further improve the Cavs, and whether LeBron is negotiating. We don’t know what Riley has said he would do (beyond McBob and Granger), and whether LeBron is negotiating.

    The ideal? One-two more years in Miami to thank Wade, and then finish his career in Akron/Cleveland. But a short-term deal is a big risk, and Riley might not go for it.

    It’s his business — and it is a business. Until he gets charged with something criminal, let’s cut him some slack.

  10. bigtganks - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    Why is that even still on the site after four years when after you guarantee you’ll win before lebron and all you won was three first round draft picks and he won two titles going to the finals all four years!?!

  11. djlexluger - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Basketball is fake? Lol

  12. cantonbound13 - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    So the bottom line is he’s not overly enthusiastic about joining the Heat or Cavs.

  13. tombstone7 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Slaves have short memories!!

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