Not long after LeBron James announced he was taking his talent to South Beach during The Decision, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote a jarringly personal and spiteful letter about LeBron. Among the excerpts:
- “’I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE’”
- “Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.”
- “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 Cavaliers posted the letter to their official website with the URL http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/news/gilbert_letter_100708.html. For nearly four years – through at least yesterday – it remained hosted there. As of February, Gilbert still said he didn’t regret the letter.
Now, it’s gone, replaced by links to news stories from journalistic outlets. Those links are preceded by a warning – “**NOTE: The news clips and articles listed don’t necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of the Cleveland Cavaliers or their Basketball Operations staff, partners, or sponsors.**” – but many of the articles discuss the possibility of the Cavaliers’ luring LeBron back to Cleveland.
I don’t know what role Gilbert had in the letter remaining up so long or coming down in recent hours. Managing the team’s website is certainly below the pay grade of an NBA owner, but Gilbert is personally invested in controlling this message – whether it’s exiling LeBron four years ago or welcoming him back now.
If the Cavaliers are to sign LeBron, a lot of healing must take place. Removing the letter from their website was one small step in that direction.