I was one of many, many, many people who found the whole LeBronapalooza a bit much, and worried that LeBron was ruining a lot of his goodwill. But Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert is doing his best that his WATB reaction is what people will remember most.
On the heels of the proceeds of the "event" going to the Boys & Girls Club (which does raise some issues about ESPN's journalistic integrity (their whaaa?) but I don't want Mitch Albom being the one pointing that out) Dan Gilbert wrote an open letter that my first reaction to was, "This is surely a joke, or a hacked website, or something."
One of my co-bloggers, Barnyard, a labor attorney of some knowledge and sympathy to labor, even if that labor is making upwards of $100 million, would say this about Gilbert's letter: "A perfect example of how sports are a "business" when it suits the ownership, and it is a loyalty/family thing when it suits ownership."
Let's get to that letter.
As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.
This sets a pretty obvious tone. LeBron James, no matter how ridiculously over-the-top the process may have been, deserted no one. He made a business decision. As is his right, as an employee. If I left my nonprofit job to rock some other nonprofit job, there would not be recriminations throughout my workplace about how I had deserted them--and even if there were, they would not take an advertisement out in the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits to denounce me publicly. Especially, especially if I had fulfilled the terms of my contract. James finished out his contract. He never held out; he never threatened a trade, he never sat petulantly on the bench after not getting a play he wanted. He became a free-agent, looked around, and saw what everyone sees--a great chance to win a title in Miami; maybe several titles.
This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.
I don't disagree with a lot of that, but nothing angers me like completely unnecessary quotes. Sure the quotes around "decision" may reflect sarcasm. But why is "witnessed" in quotes? Was the TV special not actually witnessed? Are we only hearing about it via hearsay? Damn it, Dan--you are becoming increasingly hard to like in very short order indeed.
The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.
Really? No one on the staff will take another job when offered a chance to play with an assemblage of All-Stars? No one on the staff will refuse a contract negotiation and move on? Because that's the definition of "betray" as I'm reading it here. I call horsepuckey.
You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.
Whoa. Whoa Whoa Whoa. What the Cavaliers fans, and LeBron himself maybe didn't deserve, was a team that had 3 menover 6' 9", with only one of those men under the age of 35. (And that guy under 35? Anderson Varejão? Don't compare his numbers to Chris Bosh's!)
Maybe LeBron, in his seven years, expected to have more than 2 teammates (Ilgauskas and Mo Williams) make it to the All-Star Game. Maybe the average Cavs fan deserves a better overall roster than this. Maybe, just maybe, the Cavs fans, who had one of the best players in the World over the last half-decade, deserved a team that made a push for a championship in a real way, and didn't blow their salary cap on old men and wash-outs and also-rans. And you know, hindsight is 20/20, and all that, but LeBron James didn't draft Luke Jackson ahead of Al Jefferson; The Cavs management did. I guarantee LeBron James didn't trade away the 2005 First Round Draft pick way back in 1997! Cavs fans don't deserve "cowardly betrayal", fine; they do deserve competent management--that has been sadly lacking, and yet, this team keeps going deep into the playoffs.
"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE"
Dan Gilbert, who are you quoting? Stop misusing quotes, you idiot! Also, how high are you? Because I'm looking right at your roster, and nothing about it suggests playoffs, much less Championships. Please note the below video--David Aldridge doesn't even bother mentioning a single player on the team by name.
You can take it to the bank
Dear Everybody: Please do not take that to the bank, or to your Dubai gambling website, or your neighborhood bookie, or even to your sympathetic dog. Don't take that statement anywhere.
If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, 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.
Again, are you sarcastically motivated? Stop with the quotes, you idiot. You are not inspiring confidence in anyone right now. And why are you motivated more now? If you had attained this apparently Mythical Level of Motivation 3 years ago, maybe you'd have a championship. But motivation from the ownership box doesn't win Championships--players do, and the Cavs are hurting. And Miami is stacked full. Do the Heat need some role players to fill out the roster? Probably--luckily, the Cavs are positively swimming in nothing but role players, and they probably can't keep them all.
Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there. Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.
What are you on about? And really, when discussing a 25 year old single man who just had to sit around and then agree to get paid a ton of money to leave your hole to go to South Beach? That sounds a lot like going to heaven without dying. No offense, Cleveland. But compare and contrast yourself to Miami, and you'll get what I'm saying. I feel your pain. Every Minnesotan does; so does every Milwaukee fan and Indianapolis fan. What 25 year old Millionaire says, "You know where I want to sow my wild oats? the MIDWEST!"
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.
This is the last bit I'll quote (there's more left, seriously) but I can't leave this last statement alone. Again, with the quotes. Sleep well, Cleveland (to quote Gilbert, from later on in his CrazEpistle (tm))--your franchise is in the hands of a man who can't master basic English grammar. But playing the Who Will Think of the Children Card? Who is Dan Gilbert? Helen Lovejoy? My children would learn this lesson from LeBron James--don't be afraid to leave home, and go do what you do, wherever you want. There is no disloyalty involved. As I wrote to a friend, "The only way Dan Gilbert has a point is if he's got LeBron on tape saying, 'Of course I'm coming back to the Cavaliers; I'd be a cowardly betrayer if I didn't.'"
What our kids should learn from this (if they are to learn anything) is that Ownership will always try to turn workers against worker; that they should never trust that a man richer than they are is automatically smarter than they are (three-year-olds know grammar better than Dan Gilbert does), and if you leave someone, and they instantly start badmouthing you to everyone they know, you've made the right decision.
Oh, and by, the by--Dan Gilbert made his money in online mortgages in the late 90's. So you know, he's probably one of the clowns responsible for the real estate crash we're all dealing with now. Oh, and the company he now runs, Quicken Loans, is facing a class action lawsuit--" This was filed against the company on behalf of employees who worked as loan consultants for any Quicken office within the past three years.The suit alleges that Quicken is in violation of the Fair Labor Act for failing to pay the plaintiffs overtime for working beyond a 40-hour work week." So, there's your loyal, pained employer. Get outta here, Dan Gilbert, you Whiny Baby, your toy left your house and went to play at the cool kid's house.