Sports

Dan Gilbert Tells How He and LeBron James Mended Fences

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert talks to the media during a news conference in Independence, Ohio. (Tony Dejak/AP Photo)
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert talks to the media during a news conference in Independence, Ohio. (Tony Dejak/AP Photo)

 

(USA Today) – You shouldn’t be known for the worst thing you ever did. As Dan Gilbert flew in a private plane to meet LeBron James last Sunday, he made notes about things to say, things he had been thinking about for four years, since the night James announced on national TV he was leaving Gilbert’s Cleveland Cavaliers and taking “my talents to South Beach” and the Miami Heat.

Gilbert had watched this in Sun Valley, Idaho, then dashed to a computer and “in about 45 minutes” banged out an angry letter meant to reassure the fans. In it, he mocked the “King” and his nicknames, referred to his leaving as a “cowardly betrayal” and promised Cleveland would win a championship before James did.

“There were a couple of people who tried to talk me out of it,” Gilbert tells me via phone from California. “Frankly, I didn’t put it in front of enough people. It was boom-boom, put it up. That’s something I’ve learned. When you’re in an emotional state … wait.

That letter came to define Gilbert as a basketball owner. (“If you Google me, it’s the first thing that comes up.”) He regretted it not long after he’d written it, but in the Internet world “posted” means “forever.”

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