Cleveland Caveliers Owner Dan Gilbert: Loyalty or Hypocrisy

Terry BrooksContributor IJuly 13, 2010

BOSTON - MAY 07:  LeBron James #23 takes a breather against the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on May 7, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is one of the few NBA team owners Clay Bennett, the chairman of the Oklahoma City-based Professional Basketball Club LLC (which owns the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, aka Seattle Supersonics), went to for advice and support about the management of the newly acquired Supersonics.

Bennett then moved the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma on votes Dan Gilbert lobbied others to cast, and he himself voted for. Dan Gilbert stated then, "Clay has done a remarkable job of transitioning the team to Oklahoma City...He faced very difficult circumstances [in Seattle] and met them head-on. Clay has done what is best for the franchise," not the city of Seattle or the fans that supported that franchise for over 40 years.

Gilbert went on to say, "And I admire him for it. Oklahoma City is fortunate to have Clay leading the Thunder charge, and he's fortunate to have such great fan and civic support [in Oklahoma]."

Apparently the 'loyalty' to the great fan and civic support of Seattle wasn't on his mind.

So now when LeBron James does what is best for him, he gets a "loyalty" lecture from this same Dan Gilbert. The same Dan Gilbert who fired coach Mike Brown in May after he led his team to the NBA's best record two years in a row.

The same Dan Gilbert who let go of general manager Dan Ferry, because he disagreed with Brown's firing. Even the same Dan Gilbert who's from Michigan (not Cleveland, or even Ohio), and not even a month before he offered $6 million to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, hoping he'd kick the Spartans to the curb the same way LBJ did the Cavs.

Apparently, again, the "loyalty" to the great fan and civic support of his own home state of Michigan was not on his mind.     

It seems Dan Gilbert should look at his own patterns of "loyalty" before he slams a free agent for exercising his rights as a free agent, and smearing a player who's taking a risk, and a pay cut in hopes to accomplish his goals of winning multiple Championships.

It seems Dan Gilbert should look at his own efforts to take risks in order to acquire players who could give LBJ the support he needs to win Championships. It also seems that Pat Riley has a plan that involves those risks and has offered LBJ an opportunity to have what the Cavs, in seven seasons, would or could not provide him with: a supporting cast to fulfill his goals of winning multiple Championships.

Magic had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who scored more points than any other player in league history, won six NBA championships and a record six regular season MVP Awards.

Bird had Parish along with Kevin Mchale who played in seven NBA All-Star games between 1984 and 1991, selected to the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team six times, at the end of the 2007–2008 season McHale ranked tenth in NBA history in career field goal percentage (55.4 percent), and he is among the Celtics' career leaders in several categories, including games played, points scored, and rebounding.

Jordan had Pippen, who was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight times and the All-NBA First Team three times, a seven-time NBA All-Star, and was the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1994, along with Grant first and Dennis Rodman second, who earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times and was voted NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice, and led the NBA in rebounds per game for a record seven consecutive years.

Tim Duncan first had David Robinson who was a six time All-NBA First or Second Team, eight time All-Defensive First or Second Team, 10-time NBA All-Star, and the only player in NBA history to win the Rebounding, Blocked Shots, and Scoring Titles as well as Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and MVP.Duncan then had one of the greatest trios in the NBA, dubbed "The Big Three," with Ginóbili and Tony Parker.

Kobe first had Shaq who was just as responsible (arguably more) for those titles as Kobe himself, along with Derek Fisher, even up to this year where Kobe had the supporting cast of Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and again Derek Fisher. So when Kobe goes 6 of 24 in Game Seven of the 2010 Finals, they still win.

LBJ could never have done that with the players Dan Gilbert surrounded him with in the seven years he was with the Cavs.     

With several teams willing to make significant roster moves to create room for LBJ and a supporting cast, and with Pat Riley nearly clearing out his entire roster for LBJ to come to Miami with one of the best supporting casts ever to help win multiple Championships, Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers made no significant moves, nor made any pitch to convince their star player that they had any gameplan to a multiple Championship dynasty other than what they've offered for the last seven years.

In a press conference GM Chris Grant and new head coach Byron Scott said that the Cavs had no plan B in case LBJ left because 100 percent of their energy went into keeping LBJ.

Yet Byron Scott stated in that same interview, when asked about his chance to give their final pitch when meeting with LBJ this week down at his camp, that he did fly down to meet with LBJ, but did not give a pitch. 

Scott said, "First of all I went down there and just said hello to LeBron, and I just kind of watched him and the other guys workout, they were getting some shots up, and again like I said, I was just there to watch, and I left about an hour after I got there. So I didn't have an in depth conversation with LeBron."

With all these teams pitching their gameplans to LeBron, did the Cavs think flying down to spend just a little over an hour with their star player, and only to just say "hello" would be enough to persuade him.

Dan Gilbert obviously didn't get the hint three years ago when LeBron refused to sign a long term deal, so that he could keep his options open for this years off-season.

They didn't fight or take any risks then, three years ago, to build a Championship team around LeBron. They didn't go out and give pitches and take risks to acquire other stars to come win Championships with LBJ. They didn't structure their roster or contracts to even get other star players or prepare for this off season fight to keep him.

Even now, this year, Dan Gilbert and everyone else in the Cavs organization refused to get the hint when LeBron was exercising his free agent rights by meeting with six other teams, listening to all their pitches and gameplans for him, yet never even coming up with their own pitch or gameplan. It was a fight they were never willing to fight, and for reasons that escaped everyone else in the league, it was a fight the Cavs either didn't see coming, or a fight they weren't willing to take risks for. Therefore by not taking any risks, Dan Gilbert risked losing his one and only star.

Without ever really having a plan A, and with no plan B in place, Dan Gilbert leaves GM Chris Grant and coach Byron Scott, along with the rest of the organization, scratching their heads, trying to now finally come up with a gameplan other than being content with, in one way or another, profiting from one of the league's most dynamic players, who only had one thing on his mind, winning multiple Championships.

So while LBJ is off constructing his own gameplan to fulfill the goals on his mind, the Cavs are left with only one thing on their minds, what do we do now?

As for Dan Gilbert and the fit he threw in his open letter email to LeBron James, the consequences of his actions will in time, if not already, prove to be nothing short of hypocrisy.

In a day and age when players are bounced around teams like the basketballs they so skillfully excite fans with; when coaches can be fired after bringing two straight seasons of the NBA's best record in the league; when owners can up and move teams with the support of other money-grubbing owners from a city that has supported that team for over 40 years; when the players that make this game have little if not zero control over their own careers; when money rules the decisions made by owners, coaches, and players, it would prove most hypocritical to publicly slam a free agent who was exercising his rights as a free agent, and smearing a player for letting the only thing on his mind, to win multiple Championships, rule his decisions and to guide his career, especially if you're Dan Gilbert.


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