Dan Gilbert Should Not Be Your Scapegoat
Whenever something goes wrong, everyone wants to make someone out to be the scapegoat. Since the Cavs just got swept in four games to the Golden State Warriors, it’s up to Cleveland fans to decide who to blame. Of course, many fans will turn to our owner, Dan Gilbert, and specifically his frosty relationship with none other than LeBron James.
The first point I would like to make is that I do not believe LeBron James cares about Dan Gilbert at all. If he was so mad about the letter Gilbert wrote in 2010 when LeBron left and we all hated him, he wouldn’t have come back in 2014. The King didn’t come back because of Dan Gilbert, nor does he care about him at all. He plays for himself, his brand and Cleveland/Akron, not the owner.
In 2005, Gilbert bought the Cavs for 375 million and now, according to Forbes, the franchise is worth 1.325 billion. Despite having very successful regular seasons, reaching the playoffs five years in a row before LeBron left in 2010, even making the NBA Finals in 2007 getting swept by the Spurs, it wasn’t enough and LeBron left for South Beach
I want to remind everyone that we hated LeBron after he left. Here is the letter Dan Gilbert wrote after “The Decision.” At the time, we loved the letter. Cleveland fans needed to hear a rallying cry after losing our beloved King to Miami. Sure, it wasn’t the most professional, but it’s not like it prevented LeBron from returning in 2014.
The Cavs went to the finals four years in a row, something we could never have dreamed of. Gilbert dug into his wallet and paid huge luxury tax fines to pay all of LeBron’s “boys” in JR Smith, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert, which now put us in cap hell.
Gilbert is the first owner to win a championship for Cleveland since Art Modell (whom we all love so much) did with the Browns in 1964.
If Gilbert’s letter prevented LeBron from returning home to Cleveland in 2014, I understand why people would be upset. But the King returned and we won a title. All three guys LeBron forced Gilbert to pay severely underperformed and even Kevin Love hasn’t lived up to expectation.
Kyrie Irving left Cleveland because he didn’t want to be LeBron’s #2 anymore and fans want to blame Dan Gilbert for that also. I don’t know why?
The biggest thing Gilbert is criticized for is not re-signing former GM, David Griffin. While I think Griffin was a good GM, acquiring the likes of JR Smith and Iman Shumpert in a trade with the Knicks, Kevin Love came here in a trade for Andrew Wiggins in which the Cavs got lucky to get the #1 pick for.
I think Dan Gilbert was simply tired of overpaying people and just didn’t want to keep Griffin anyway.
When Kevin Durant went to the Golden State Warriors after the 2016 season, I don’t think there was anything that even a LeBron James-led team could do to beat them. After all, the Cavs lost to the Warriors in five games with Kyrie, Griffin and other acquisitions such as Kyle Korver.
When Kyrie handcuffed the Cavs and forced a trade last offseason, it screwed the team over no matter who was in charge. Kyrie ended up getting knee surgery and likely wouldn’t have been able to play a full season in Cleveland anyway. New GM Koby Altman did everything he could at the deadline, but we all knew this team wasn’t going to beat the Warriors and that’s exactly what happened.
I respect Dan Gilbert for the following reasons.
- The letter he wrote after LeBron embarrassed the city on national TV, standing up for our fan base.
- Making up with LeBron enough for him to return home.
- Owning a championship-winning team.
- Willing to spend way over the salary cap to keep the championship team intact.
No owner is perfect and Dan Gilbert is not by any means. You could criticize him for not spending enough LeBron’s first time around, for writing the letter, for his relationship with LeBron, for not signing Griffin and much more. But is it really Dan Gilbert’s fault that the Warriors became an all-star team? Is it Gilbert’s fault that Kyrie wanted to be the star of a team?
We all wish the Cavs had a more competitive roster this year to try and contend with the Warriors, but the team could only do with what they had. LeBron, despite all of his greatness on the court, is not always the easiest guy to work with, but he and Gilbert seemed to manage a “business relationship.” Why does the owner and his star player have to be best friends?
I also think LeBron’s disdain for Gilbert lies in politics. The King hates President Donald Trump and Dan Gilbert donated $750K to Trump’s inauguration. Let it be known that Gilbert also donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
If LeBron really wants to leave Cleveland cause he’s upset our owner likes the president and he doesn’t, I think that’s a little immature. Everyone has their right to like who they want and do what they want with their own money, especially if it’s unrelated to basketball.
Dan Gilbert helped the Cavs win a championship. While he is not perfect, I think the problems within this franchise are far from his fault. I blame before Gilbert, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and our players not stepping up to help LeBron.