The 2010-2011 NBA season has quite honestly been a total disaster for the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fanbase. After opening up the season with an upset victory over the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics, their season has gone downhill in a hurry. Entering the December 2nd matchup with former superstar, LeBron James, the Cavaliers were hovering just below the .500 mark and appeared to be in position to at least compete for the 8th seed in the NBA playoffs. As we know, however, the Cavs were dismantled by LeBron James and the Heat and they have yet to recover. News came out yesterday that the Cavaliers’ best player, Anderson Varejao, who had been playing the best basketball of his career, will likely miss the rest of the season due to a torn tendon in his ankle that was suffered while running suicide drills in practice.
As of today, the Cavaliers are 8-29 and they have literally only won one game since the December 2nd meeting with the Heat. The Cavaliers, losers of 20 of the last 21 games, have looked awful in what was expected to be a difficult season. Any team that built its roster completely around one player would struggle mightily after losing that player with no time to make adjustments. In the long run, the Cavs struggles this year may be the best thing for the franchise as they will likely be competing for the top spot in the NBA lottery. The roster is currently so bloated with players who are aging and have ridiculous contracts, that there is just no way that the Cavs can move forward with the current roster.
Unfortunately, blowing up the team as many say, is easier said than done. Those contracts aren’t all that easy to dump as other NBA teams are very slow to take on a big, long-term contract for a marginal player. Think about it. What championship contender would want to take on Mo Williams or Antawn Jamison‘s contracts? Neither player is likely to significantly contribute to a championship run and the contracts are so restrictive that it would hurt the team’s long-term flexibility.
With that being said, one way to potentially move guys like Mo and Jamison is to package them with valuable trade assets. For the last couple of seasons, it was largely believed that J.J. Hickson represented the Cavs’ most valuable trade-able asset, but after the performances this season, there is no question that Andy is the most valuable asset. I have no idea if the Cavs are willing to move either player, but Varejao’s injury will make it a moot point, at least for Andy.
For the Cavs, this injury likely won’t equate to much of a difference in the win and loss columns as they are horrible even with Varejao’s strong play, but it represents yet another bad break for the struggling franchise. The fans are still behind Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers, but the rebuilding must take place sooner than later as what we’ve seen thus far this season is nearly un-watchable.
Cleveland Cavaliers fans have been faced with a very real and very difficult transition from being a perennial power in the Eastern Conference to being a likely lottery team. After building the team entirely around LeBron James, his departure immediately transformed the Cavs into a bottom dweller.
Most Cavaliers fans have been very supportive of Dan Gilbert and the organization and despite some very ugly basketball, remain patient and trust in Gilbert to turn the franchise around. That is of course, MOST Cavs fans.
One disgruntled season ticket holder paid for an ad on Basketball-Reference.com in a unique effort to protest and voice his or her displeasure against Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers. The ad appears to expire tomorrow sometime and I’m not sure how much the “Extremely Ticked Off Cavs Season-Ticket Holder” paid for it, but here is a screen shot.
If you want to check it out, just navigate to the Cavaliers page on BBR.com and it’s there in all it’s glory. It’s actually much, MUCH bigger on their site. You literally cannot miss it.
If that weren’t enough, the same fan appears to be “extremely ticked off” at J.J. Hickson as well as this ad is taken out on J.J.’s player page:
Now I can’t say that I disagree with the J.J. add as he has been a tremendous disappointment both on the court and off, but I am of the opinion that Dan Gilbert is a very good owner. Yes, in hindsight he maybe should have handled #6 differently and not rolled over but that course was already set by the previous owner, Gordon Gund. Gilbert carried on the same practices and honestly thought that was the best way to retain #6 and thought it was the best thing for the team.
There are plenty of other owners in professional sports that make decisions solely based on what is in their best interest (which isn’t always aligned with the team). So if Gilbert makes mistakes in good faith and in an attempt to do what’s best for the franchise then I can accept it. He ponied up tons of cash to keep building the team towards a championship and he was over the luxury tax for the last few years.
Of course, fans can have their opinions and I at least give this fan a lot of credit for coming up with an original idea instead of getting drunk and throwing something at the Q!
After months of speculation and whispers about potential tampering by Pat Riley and the Miami Heat in regards to the recruitment of LeBron James, it finally appears to be coming to a head. A Yahoo Sports report details that Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers have engaged a prominent law firm to investigate the potential tampering charges that occured prior to LeBron James’ Free Agency and while he was still under contract with the Cavaliers.
After James announced his decision to sign the Cavaliers, several sources reported that James met with Miami Heat President, Pat Riley during the 2009-10 season and while James was under contract with the Cavs. Other reports indicate that LeBron, Wade, and Bosh predetermined their futures as far back as 2008. The NBA indicated that they would not investigate tampering charges unless either the Cavaliers or the Raptors formally requested an investigation take place.
Dan Gilbert has reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the law firm’s services thus far, and as is his nature, will spare no expense to get to the truth and to get a firm resolution for his franchise and his fans. The plan for Gilbert is reportedly to be able to hand the NBA enough information to confidently launch a full scale investigation and to quickly arrive at a conclusion.
Some have speculated that the Cavaliers and Raptors would have no technical ability to allege tampering as they ultimately entered into a sign and trade agreement with their respective stars. I would argue, however, that their hands were forced and they had no other option but to get what they could in return after being hung out to dry.
If it is true that these players plotted together to leave their current teams and to team up in Miami ahead of time, it is not only distasteful and disgusting, but illegal. If Pat Riley contacted LeBron James and/or Chris Bosh while they were under contract with other teams, he and the Heat could be in some serious trouble with the NBA. It’s unknown at this point how the NBA would treat Dwyane Wade’s involvement. If Wade acted as a direct agent for Riley and the Heat to relay information and to recruit players that are under contract, I would think this would be an issue as well.
According to league rules, prior to the free agency period which began July 1st, no Miami Heat representative (and this includes Dwyane Wade)was allowed to discuss with James the specific circumstances around Wade, Bosh, and James joining together with the Heat. From all accounts, this is EXACTLY what happened.
In addition to the alleged dinner that Riley had with James during the season when the Cavs played at Miami (this is the same game in which LeBron announced he would change his number from #23 to #6), the Cavaliers’ lawfirm is also investigating a meeting with Riley and Wade with James’ inner circle that allegedly occurred in Chicago in June.
Potential penalties for tampering include front office suspensions, fines, and the forfeiture of draft picks. Many league sources question the NBA’s true desire to investigate these allegations due to the negative attention it would bring to the NBA and it’s biggest stars. After the NBA showed zero desire to look into the allegations when they first came out, it would stand to reason that this is true.
One thing is sure. Dan Gilbert is not going to let this die and he’s going to do everything he can to provide enough evidence to force David Stern’s hand. If Gilbert is able to uncover enough evidence (and it sounds like he is well on his way to do so), Dan Gilbert will be forced to investigate fully.
We’ll see what happens, but there has been enough smoke and things that just haven’t seemed on the up and up to indicate that something happened. The players even admitted that they discussed it at the Olympics and Bosh let it slip during their “Welcome Party” that it was pre-arranged. To what degree though, we’ll have to wait and see.
Last night, Chris Broussard from ESPN reported that the Cavaliers banned ALL anti-LeBron apparel and signs in an attempt to stave off a catastrophic event when the Miami Heat come to the Q on December 2nd. I posted a strong opinion on this strategy by the Cavaliers (http://bit.ly/f89tBX) and today received an update from Cavaliers majority owner, Dan Gilbert.
Obviously, this is much different than the report from last night indicating that anything anti-LeBron would be confiscated. I posted last night that I was strongly against this idea as I believed that his safety should certainly be guaranteed but signs and shirts being banned was absolutely ridiculous. Based on this update from Gilbert, it appears that only profanity and items that aren’t rated PG 13 are going to be subject to this idea which I’m 100% ok with. The Q is a family friendly environment and I agree with this strategy for all games, not just December 2nd.
I’m still uneasy about the game, the hours leading up to the game, and the hours after the game. There are A LOT of angry people in northeast Ohio still and many of them will be looking for some sort of emotional release. I honestly hope nothing ugly happens at the Q and I know Cavs security and the Cleveland Police are working very hard to avoid any potential issues.
Fans, please be smart. The disgust and anger is natural, but there is no need to ruin your night or the night for the rest of the fans. Be smart, be appropriate, and hopefully the Cavs will bring home a victory agains the struggling Heat.
Then we can just sit back and enjoy watching ESPN and other media outlets try to create a negative spin toward the Cavs and Cleveland.
December 2nd is rapidly approaching and all eyes will be on Cleveland Ohio when LeBron James returns to the Q for the first time since defecting to Miami in the summer. LeBron made enemies all across the country with his antics over the summer and thus far in the early NBA season but nowhere houses more enemies than Cleveland Ohio.
In addition to his empty promises to the franchise and to the fans that he would not leave until he fulfilled his goal of bringing a championship to the Cavaliers, LeBron James unquestionably handled his departure in the wrong way. If that weren’t enough, he went on to rub salt into the wounds of Cavs fans as he was later quoted as saying that he hated Cleveland and had always separated Akron from Cleveland. In LeBron’s mind, he had no loyalties to the City of Cleveland whatsoever, and that’s fine, but he assumed that he would still be loved in Akron.
To some degree he’s correct as there is a pocket of people who love him unconditionally just because he’s from the area and they watched him grow up. But as an Akron resident and after having spoken with dozens of people from varying socio-economic backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and neighborhoods, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of Akron does not support LeBron James any longer.
Like I said, there are those who support him no matter what. And the City, his High School, and the University will certainly support him as he continues to pad their pockets with donations and charity events (not to mention his massive property & income taxes). Even though LeBron hates Cleveland and separated the two cities, it really functions as more of a region. Cavs, Indians, and Browns fans come from all over Northeast Ohio and they largely view themselves as one in the same. There is no separation or ill will towards other cities generally speaking (outside of High School rivalries).
With that being said, due to the way LeBron finished his career in Cleveland, the way he left, and the underhanded shots he’s taken at the city and the franchise since his departure, December 2nd might be the most anticipated day of the year in Cleveland. It has been discussed since the NBA schedules were released in August and Cavs fans, the organization and the league have all engaged in discussions as to how to handle it.
The game will be nationally televised by TNT and it will be the focus of the entire NBA. Cleveland fans have been portrayed as poor, hillbilly, bitter, uneducated, ignorant, and cruel people for months. The burning of the jersey, the alleged “tackling” of an 8 year old Jaguars fan, the 2 degenerates that sent racially motivated tweets to LeBron out of the hundreds of thousands who send messages to him , the Youtube video response to LeBron’s Nike commercial. These have all been scooped up by the national media and misconstrued, taken advantage of, and inaccurately projected on the entire city.
Needless to say, the national media is licking its chops in anticipation of December 2nd. The Cavaliers have been working with the NBA since August to plan for the game and to take additional security measures to avoid a potential disaster (i.e., The Malace in the Palace).
Per ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the NBA, the Cavs, and the Cleveland Police Department have had multiple conversations regarding the security plans for this game and they have enlisted dozens of extra officers to ensure LeBron’s safety.
“Honestly, I’m a little bit afraid,” one member of the Cavs organization said. “Some people don’t care. Their mentality is ‘‘I’ve got to get this off my chest.’ There’s so much negative energy around this game. People aren’t excited about the game itself. They’re just like, ‘‘I can’t wait to do something.’ “
In addition, the team has researched the countless (some of which are pretty funny) anti-LeBron shirts and apparel and officials will be on the lookout as fans enter the arena as well as once they’re seated for anything that is disparaging to LeBron or his family. For anyone wearing an anti-LeBron shirt, it will be confiscated and replaced with a Cavaliers shirt. Any anti-LeBron signs will be confiscated as well. Security will also be keeping a close watch on fans to try to anticipate and stop anything from being thrown onto the floor.
“We don’t want to create a police state,” said Tad Carper, the Cavaliers’ senior vice president of communications. “We’ve always had a real energetic, super-charged home crowd and we want to encourage that for every game, including Dec. 2. We want people to enjoy themselves and express themselves, but we don’t want fans to cross the boundaries of decency. We’re not going to allow profanity and things like that. We’ll have no tolerance for anyone trying to cross those boundaries.”
“We feel like we’re in good position,” Carper said of the security plans for the game. “We understand that folks want to let out their emotions and we feel they can do that without crossing the line. Law-abiding, legal, safe behavior is what we’re looking for.”
I understand, respect, and applaud the Cavaliers for taking measures to ensure that there is not a disaster like the Malice in the Palace. What I don’t understand though, is how signs or shirts would incite violence from the fans. It seems to me that the league is forcing the Cavs to ban this type of material to protect LeBron and his family so they don’t have to deal with it. If every fan in the arena had an anti-LeBron shirt on that’s not going to make fans emotional or angry and cause them to go onto the floor or throw beers. If anything, it would upset LeBron and then his words or actions could incite violence from the fans.
So let me get this straight… LeBron isn’t responsible for his actions so the NBA and the Cavs are banning anti-LeBron material to proactively avoid a horrible situation? LeBron is the “professional” athlete. He should be more than capable of seeing, hearing, and dealing with negative attention towards him or his family. There is no reason, in my opinion, that he needs to be protected under the guise of “safety”. If he can’t take the criticism or negative attention then maybe he shouldn’t attend the game. Maybe he shouldn’t be in the NBA. And if something that a fan says causes him to lose his cool and respond which could create an emotional and angry environment then that’s on LeBron for not controlling himself.
Fans are held responsible. If they cross a line or throw something, they’re out of the game, arrested and sometimes banned for life. But if they want to wear anti-LeBron gear then they should be well within their rights to do so. LeBron should be well within his rights to have his safety ensured and things should not be thrown at him. But if he responds to a negative shirt, sign or comment and that pisses fans off then he should be held responsible as well. It’s amazing to me that he’s being protected so much as to make sure that nothing happens where he is required to show restraint, composure and professionalism. Instead, they just ban anything that might upset LeBron so he isn’t forced to be a responsible adult and a professional.
There has been much discussion from Cavs fans in regards to what they should do on December 2nd. For the most part, I truly believe that fans want to get out months of frustration after they feel they were lied to and betrayed. Would some of this include disparaging comments, signs, and shirts about LeBron and his family? Certainly. But I honestly haven’t heard from anyone who actually plans or thinks it would be a good idea to cross a line or endanger players or other fans.
Honestly, most fans I’ve spoken to are now more worried about more negative attention and perception being placed on Cleveland. There have been enough instances that were misconstrued and inaccurately portrayed to shed a negative light on the city and its fans. Most fans are now just concerned that no matter what happens, Cleveland will be shown as a horrible city and the fans will be ruthless, ignorant, drunkards.
I was originally excited about December 2nd for a chance to see how LeBron responds to his former fans and teammates. But at this point, he’s being so inappropriately protected and coddled and the media is ready to jump all over anything that the fans do that I’m beginning to dread the event. Whatever happens, LeBron will portray himself as a victim and the fans will be the villain. That’s fine. Fans are upset that he left and finished his career in Cleveland the way he did, but most are honestly more upset with the way LeBron continues to play the victim and disparage the City and the fans. He continues to take subliminal shots at the fans and any response they give will be make them look bad.
I don’t know what will happen on December 2nd, but maybe it is a good thing they’re banning all anti-LeBron gear. Actually, maybe they should just ban all Cavs fans from the arena that night. I’d much rather see an empty arena than have LeBron receive negative attention. Something horrible could happen if fans are left to their own devices. Cavs fans can’t be trusted. Ban them from the arena. Hell, ban them from the city limits….
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is best known outside of Cleveland for his Comic Sans open letter to Cavs fans where he nearly neutered his former star, LeBron James. Gilbert drew harsh criticism from the media and was even called a slave owner by Jesse Jackson. Was the letter the best business decision he’s ever made? No. But it was an emotional decision, it was true and it rallied his fan base.
Gilbert has been mostly quiet since that time but has given a few interviews since the season began. He made it clear that he doesn’t regret his decision to send the letter and he’s ready to move on. He hasn’t come right out and said it, but Gilbert is furious with the way his team and this city has been portrayed and with the disrespect the Cavaliers franchise has received. Some “Expert Analysts” chose the Cavaliers to be the worst team in the NBA winning anywhere from 8-30 games.
While Gilbert knows that at this point his team lacks the overall talent to truly compete in the NBA, he seems legitimately pleased with the direction of his team, with the coach, and with the young core talent. Obviously, they will need to add a start to truly be competitive, but there are a lot of positives to build on.
Last night Dan Gilbert let everyone know on his twitter account that he’s pleased with the team’s performance early on and that he is PISSED at some of the media predictions.
Now Dan knows this team isn’t going to compete for a title, but I genuinely think that he’s pleased with the effort, style of play and direction that Byron Scott is taking the team. I know the fans are very pleased with the WAY the team has played thus far and there has definitely been a renewed sense of team oriented basketball and great effort.
Sure, the Cavs aren’t going to win the division and might not make the playoffs… but I can guarantee you that they will a HELL of a lot more than 8 or 12 wins. That’s just ridiculous Cleveland hate that seems to be permeating the national media these days.
LeBron James’ most recent target, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson
LeBron James spent 7 incredible years in Cleveland, but never ONCE attempted to recruit another player to the team. It’s confirmed that when other free agents, like Shaquille O’Neal were acquired by the Cavs, LeBron not only didn’t participate, but he didn’t even pick up the phone to contact Shaq after the deal was in place. But since his defection to the Miami Heat, LeBron has been quite the recruiter. He was key in bringing fan favorite Zydrunas Ilgauskas, good friend Mike Miller, and he even talked heavily with and picked Derek Fisher up from the airport in an attempt to sign the veteran PG. LeBron also unsuccessfully tried to steal away current Cavalier and close friend, Jawad Williams. This is just another example of why Cleveland fans feel so jilted as LeBron literally recruited more players in a week in Miami than he did in 7 full years with the Cavaliers.
But since the acquisition of the BIG THREE in Miami, the team has been struggling to fill in the surrounding pieces. The team undoubtedly lacks depth and has some glaring deficiencies aside from their 3 stars (and even including Bosh). One of the key positions that they have been looking to fill is that of a point guard to alleviate some of the pressure off of LeBron James. Quite honestly I think Pat Riley sees some of the bad habits LeBron has when he dominates the ball and wants to minimize any potential issues down the road with trying to curtail this. Pat Riley is a very smart guy….
After LeBron left this summer, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson has been one of the fan favorites, especially after his letter to Cavs fans thanking them for their loyalty and for making him feel like he’s at home (http://bit.ly/9iK0PS). Unfortunately for Cavs fans, LeBron James isn’t quite done twisting the knife. Reports came out last night during the Cavs game that Boobie Gibson is being targeted by the Miami Heat for a trade to fill their lack of depth and talent at the PG position. Keep in mind, that LeBron James LOVED Boobie Gibson during his time in Cleveland and they have always been very close.
I don’t think Dan Gilbert would deal a current key player to Miami in an effort to help their championship run. I really don’t. But I also didn’t think that Gilbert would trade sign & trade LeBron James, allowing him to get his max contract. Granted, it was the correct basketball decision as it allowed the team to get something back for LeBron, but I really didn’t think he would do it. So, while I don’t think we need to worry about losing Boobie to the Heat, you never really know. If they offer enough draft picks (they don’t have any players to offer), it might be enough to sway Gilbert. Boobie appears to be flourishing in the new system and he genuinely seems like he cares about the team, the city and the fans, so I HOPE that we get a chance to see what he can do for Byron Scott.
But if we have learned anything from the events of this summer, it’s that we can NEVER underestimate the ability of LeBron James to inflict maximum damage on the Cleveland fan base.
Miami Heat President and Free Agency Mastermind, Pat Riley
LeBron James spent the first 7 years of his NBA career controlling nearly every aspect of his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. Many wondered if this would continue with the Miami Heat under the watch of NBA LEGEND, Pat Riley. The answer is a RESOUNDING NO!
According to local Cleveland radio host, Michael Reghi with ESPN 850 WKNR, LeBron James has had his privileges revoked by Pat Riley. Reghi was the Cavaliers play by play announcer for the first few years of LeBron James’ career and was removed when Dan Gilbert purchased the team. He has watched LeBron James very closely, has inside knowledge regarding the team and its operations and still has various contacts within the NBA.
For those who are not aware, LeBron James received tremendous, and sometimes inappropriate, benefits from the Cavaliers organization. They will now to try to downplay it in order to minimize any repercussions with the league office and to minimize their feeling of embarrassment, but it is certainly accurate. For YEARS, LeBron James was given preferential tickets for his family and friends, locker room and team flight access for his friends (including Maverick Carter and LRMR), and even jobs and cars for part of LeBron’s entourage. In addition, LeBron regularly controlled the team’s schedule and flight itinerary in order to accommodate his ability to stay an extra night when the Cavs played in L.A., NY, Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta, etc. This happened quite often during the year and over his 7 years in Cleveland. Some of this was grandfathered in by Gilbert upon his acquisition of the team and some of it was added in an attempt to keep LeBron happy and improve the chances of resigning him to a long-term deal.
Honestly, who could blame Dan Gilbert or the Cavaliers. LeBron is a great player and WAS a Cleveland Icon. The organization was handcuffed and were forced to continually roll over and give LeBron, his friends, and his family ridiculous benefits in an attempt to keep him. According to Reghi, Pat Riley has put an immediate stop to this type of benefit for LeBron James. One of LeBron’s friends was given, for all intents and purposes, a seat on the Cavs bench for EVERY game and several of his friends were permitted to fly on the team plane and stay in the team hotel. Pat Riley has not allowed this type of benefit, let alone the jobs and cars provided to LeBron’s friends and family and reports are that LeBron is PISSED.
Reghi’s indicated that source said LeBron is very unhappy that these benefits are not being provided and that he’s starting to regret his decision to leave. In addition, in one of Miami’s final pre-season games this year against the New Orleans Hornets, LeBron is said to have approached an Assistant GM and requested that the team stay an extra night in New Orleans. When asked why, LeBron is said to have given his typical response in these instances…. to party and to hang out on Bourbon Street with Chris Paul. The Assistant GM is said to have called Pat Riley who said for “everyone get your asses back to Miami immediately”. This again, is said to have rubbed LeBron the wrong way.
As I mentioned before, Maverick Carter and LRMR were given incredible access, influence, and benefit with the Cavaliers during the LeBron James era. But in Miami, they are not allowed the same benefits or latitude and LeBron, THE ENTITLED ONE, is not very happy with Riley or with his new team. LeBron may adjust and learn to live with Riley’s groundrules, but it’s honestly doubtful that he’ll do so happily. He knows with the criticism he took this summer that he can ill afford to appear even MORE selfish and like even more of an asshole so he’ll keep quiet. But if you have paid any attention to who LeBron is and what he’s about, you’ll know that he will not take this well.
Its absolutely the right move for Riley as he has a chance to cut this type of BS out before it starts, whereas Dan Gilbert inherited much of it. If history tells us anything about Riley, we also know that he is only about ONE THING….. WINNING. Pat Riley doesn’t give 2 shits about spending the team’s off day in New Orleans for an extra night so LeBron can party with his BFF. But if history has told us anything about LeBron, it’s that he is ABSOLUTELY about this type of thing and he will not take it lightly.
LeBron will NEVER admit it because he’s too stubborn, too proud, and is honestly too hurt from the backlash he received nationwide and in Cleveland, but I think he’s starting to see that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Cleveland Cavaliers Owner, and President of TEAM COMIC SANS, Dan Gilbert
Cleveland Cavaliers Owner, Dan Gilbert, had one HELL of a rough summer in 2010. After purchasing the team 5 years ago from Gordon Gund, Dan Gilbert owned the team during some of its most successful years in franchise history and controlled the team’s best player in their history in one LeBron James. During his ownership tenure, he watched the value of his franchise nearly double, mostly thanks to the accolades of James. But when LeBron James decided to leave Cleveland after cutting off all communication with the team and without the common courtesy of a warning to the team that employed him for the past 7 years, Dan Gilbert…. well…. lost it.
By now, we’ve all seen the infamous COMIC SANS Open Letter to Cleveland Cavaliers fans (http://bit.ly/cEZKfm) where Dan Gilbert absolutely crushes LeBron James as a player and as a person. Dan Gilbert lost his star player, watched the value of his franchise drop to nearly half of what it was just a day earlier, and then got DESTROYED by the media and several current and past players in the NBA.
It’s clear that Gilbert felt betrayed and disrespected by not only the departure of LeBron James, but by the manner in which he announced it and by the fact that he refused to even the Cavs a heads up. This feeling of betrayal sent Gilbert into a rage and he openly criticized the player he once loved, the player he once BENT OVER BACKWARDS FOR (details coming), and caused the owner to accuse LeBron James of quitting in the playoffs. Many wondered if, in an honest moment, and when Gilbert had the opportunity to calm down and process what actually happened, if he would regret the decision to publish the now infamous letter.
With the 2010-2011 NBA season beginning tonight for the Cavs, Dan Gilbert went on a local radio show today and answered quite a few questions. After months of silence, Gilbert was asked specifically if he regretted the letter and for those who are familiar with Dan Gilbert, the response should not surprise you. Gilbert confidently stated (and I’m paraphrasing) that he didn’t regret sending the letter at all but that what happened is over and done with. He went on to specify that it wasn’t so much the decision or even the way the decision was announced that upset him then and still upsets him, but that it was what happened in the playoffs against Boston. Dan Gilbert was elusive in providing specifics, but he said that it’s clear what happened and that anyone looked at the tape, they’d be able to see for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
Obviously, after the backlash Gilbert received after sending the Open Letter, he was smart enough not to give a soundbite of him saying that LeBron quit, choked, and/or tanked the playoffs series. But that is EXACTLY what he’s saying. Dan Gilbert firmly believes (as do most objective fans) that LeBron gave up against the Celtics. No one knows if it was due to the issue with his mother, if he choked against a good team, or if he was just disinterested because he knew he was going to leave. Gilbert specifically said, that in order to avoid another fine from the Commissioner that he would need to leave it at that and let people decide for themselves.
Gilbert went through his thought process the night of THE DECISION. He said he was in Idaho at a business conference and hadn’t spoken to LeBron for quite some time and he was getting no response from LeBron or his camp. When it was originally announced that THE DECISION would take place on primetime TV, Gilbert felt as most people did…. that there was NO way that he would leave THAT way. But after days and days of LeBron ignoring his calls, including the day and night leading up to LeBron’s announcement, Gilbert put it together that he was going to leave and he was using the charity event to diffuse the situation. When pressed on the promise given by Dan Gilbert that there were so many things that people didn’t know that would come out, he effectively dodged the question saying that most of it has already come out and he’s put it behind him and doesn’t think it would benefit the team to discuss it at this point.
Dan Gilbert still feels very disrespected and he is a stubborn, but smart man. He went on to say that he is still very motivated by the disrespect and betrayal he felt and that he is trying to use it as motivation to move on. He adamantly said that he has not spoken to LeBron since THE DECISION and he actually never even got the opportunity to speak to him in the weeks leading up to THE DECISION. Gilbert specified that it would be foolish to dwell on the events of this summer even though it still hurts, but the organization has focused its energy and is moving on toward the future.
Other highlights of the interview included Gilbert’s confident, but questionable optimism for the Cavaliers this season. While the organization brought in a great fit in Byron Scott as the Head Coach, there is certainly diminished talent. Gilbert insisted that there is a renewed sense of optimism and although the conventional wisdom in the NBA is that a superstar is needed in order to win a title, it’s not ALWAYS the case. Obviously, he’s the Owner and leader of the organization and needs to remain optimistic, but I hate to tell him… that’s absolutely how the NBA is designed. He acknowledged that it may be necessary for the Cavs to be VERY bad in order to position themselves to be a player in the draft lottery in hopes of landing the next Kevin Durant.
Gilbert took a small shot at LeBron in saying that for 7 years we’ve only seen one brand of basketball in this town and that brand of basketball was on display last night. He’s referring to LeBron dominating the basketball and disrupting any flow of offense for the Heat last night (http://bit.ly/a27N5k). Gilbert then said “I guess they can only go 81-1 this year!” in his attempt at a humorous shot at “THE KING”.
Neither will admit it, but after watching and listening to both LeBron James and Dan Gilbert, I truly believe they both regret the events of this summer. They are both stubborn and proud men and would NEVER admit this, but they’ll both end up wishing they had each other back.
Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach, Byron Scott
As the LeBron James Era in Cleveland Cavaliers history came to a shocking, abrupt, and painful end, the Cavaliers begin the first night of the rest of their lives sans LeBron. While it will certainly not be the same as it has been for the last 7 years, the organization definitely has bright spots and reason for hope for Cavaliers fans.
Despite some “experts” predicting the Cavaliers to win just 12 games and to be the worst team in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, Coach Byron Scott remains optimistic and has ensured that the team will be competitive. Without a true superstar to fill the massive void left behind by “THE GUY DOWN SOUTH”, Byron Scott along with Owner Dan Gilbert have become the face of the franchise…. at least for now. Byron Scott has implemented an entirely new offensive scheme and some, including myself, would point out that this would the be the first offensive scheme the Cavaliers have had in 7 years. Unless of course you consider LeBron standing at the top of the key dribbling down the shot clock to be an offense. The motion oriented offense, termed as the “Princeton Offense” will be dramatically different than what Cavs fans are used to seeing as it will include constant, off the ball movement.
The other major difference in terms of scheme, is that of the increased emphasis in running (i.e. fastbreak points). While the LeBron departure is well documented, the departure of Shaquille O’Neal and long-time Cav Zydrunas Ilgauskas will actually help the Cavaliers to be able to accomplish their goals in this area. The Cavs lack of depth will certainly be problematic at times, but in terms of Byron Scott’s desire to run and run often, this will help.
The roster obviously is going to look much different with the key departures, but it will also be very different due to some new acquisitions as well as new roles for familiar players. As it stands going into the opener tonight, the starting lineup is as follows:
PG: Mo Williams/Ramon Sessions (Mo is questionable tonight so Sessions may start. I expect Mo to get the nod at least for a while even though I think he would be more valuable to the Cavs coming off the bench.
SG: Anthony Parker
SF: Jamario Moon
PF: J.J. Hickson
C: Anderson Varejao
Bench: Antawn Jamison, Boobie Gibson, Jawad Williams, Leon Powe, Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris
Keep in mind that the lineup and rotation will be extremely fluid due Byron Scott still learning about his players, learning who plays well with each other, and who is best suited in the starting lineup and coming off the bench. We won’t know for a while who will get significant minutes and how the rotation will look and it’s very likely that the lineups will be mixed and matched for quite some time.
While the roster is certainly less talented than we’re used to seeing, there are some bright spots and I do believe that Byron Scott will do a great job of maximizing performance from the talent that he has. I’m curious to watch the continued development of J.J. Hickson as he may the Cavaliers’ most talented player. He certainly remains very raw and needs to continue to develop defensively, with his back to the basket, and in his mid-range game. But he is extremely athletic and I think he’ll thrive in the uptempo offense.
Ramon Sessions is a very solid PG and I’d like to see him eventually take over the starting role from Mo Williams. He is a questionable shooter, but he does a great job of running the offense, using the pick & roll, and getting to the basket and drawing contact.
I’m concerned with Andy Varejao, however, as it has been proven time and time again that he is best suited to come off the bench and struggles against some of the NBA’s Centers. He’ll surely provide great energy and intensity, however, and he will have no problems in the new offense.
I’m not so sure Antawn Jamison will be a Cavalier at the end of the season and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If we keep him, Byron Scott use him very effectively, but he is an aging star with a big contract. Not to mention, he came to Cleveland expecting to win a championship, not fight for the 8 seed. He won’t say it because is a true professional, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind being moved before the break.
I’m also excited to see Leon Powe continue to work back into form after his horrible knee injury with the Celtics. He provided some good minutes for the Cavs last year, but it was painfully apparent that he just didn’t have his burst and he wasn’t close to 100%. With another off-season of training and rehab, Powe could emerge as a surprise player for the Cavs as he has largely been forgotten. Remember though, that he was a KEY player in the Celtics championship run a few years ago.
Christian Eyenga is raw and very athletic, but I’m not sure how much of an impact he’ll have this season. If he gets significant time, he could thrive in the uptempo, motion system employed by Byron Scott.
The real weakness of this team, aside from lacking a true star who can take over a game when necessary, is the lack of size. The Cavs lack a true Center and are going to call on Andy to do something he’s not best suited for. Byron Scott will try to counter their lack of size with an uptempo offense but no matter how hard he tries, there will be plenty of times when they are forced to defend in the half court. The lack of size for the Cavaliers will be a huge deficiency and I expect teams to punish the Cavs in the paint.
There is no way the Cavs will be the worst team in the East and finish with anything close to 12 wins, but there is also little chance of the team finishing much over .500. Honestly, it would be a safe bet that the Cavaliers will finish somewhere around the .500 mark and this will put them in position for the playoffs. Some will say that making the playoffs is the absolute worst thing that could happen for the team in the long-term because it will keep them out of the lottery and will keep the Cavs from landing their next superstar. I tend to agree, unless they’re able to add a star via free agency, and given the way LeBron has bashed the City, the owner, and the franchise, that seems unlikely. It would be painful, but an awful season might better position the Cavs for the future.
Ultimately, I believe that Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant will re-evaluate the team close to the trade deadline. If they are hanging in there and making progress, they will likely try to add a piece to help the team make a playoff push. If they’re struggling, don’t be surprised to see a massive fire-sale a la the Cleveland Indians. But PLEASE freak out and start to think that the Cavs will turn into the Indians as Dan Gilbert is a MUCH BETTER owner than the Dolans. It might take a few years, but I truly believe that Dan Gilbert will stop at NOTHING to build another winner.