Dan Gilbert Talks Relationship with LeBron James, Paying the Luxury Tax and More

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2016

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 22:  Cleveland Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert waves at fans during the Cleveland Cavaliers Victory Parade And Rally on June 22, 2016 in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.  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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NBAE/Getty Images)
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Winning cures plenty of ails in sports, including the relationship between Cleveland Cavaliers principal owner Dan Gilbert and his team's best player, LeBron James.

Gilbert appeared on Tuesday's Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo and Je'Rod Cherry on ESPN 850 in Cleveland and "said he and James have come a long way" since the four-time NBA MVP left for the Miami Heat and the owner "responded with a scathing letter on the team's website," per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com.

McMenamin shared Gilbert's comments: 

I think everybody learns every day in the decisions they make and the things they do. It was just a whole different feeling from Day 1 [when James came back in 2014]. Keep in mind that we just had one bad night in five years that we were here with LeBron -- remember the first two [years James played in Cleveland], Gordon Gund ran and owned the team.

But we never had a bad day until the way it ended. And as bad as it was, it was one day, it was one night and everybody is a grown man and obviously we focused on the job here. And sometimes things happen for a reason, right? You just never know it at the time.

Not only has Gilbert moved past his days of criticizing James in Comic Sans font for pursuing the opportunity to win championships alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, he even said he and James will meet in the near future to talk about the direction of Cleveland's franchise.

As long as that roster they will discuss includes James, the Cavaliers will be well-positioned to compete for more championships this season and in the immediate future. While the four-time league MVP and 12-time All-Star is 31 years old with 13 NBA seasons under his belt, he showed few signs of slowing down during Cleveland's championship run in 2015-16.

He appeared in 76 games and averaged 25.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists a night before putting on a historic display as his team overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the 73-win Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, as ESPN Stats & Info shared:

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He is the first player in NBA history to lead all players in all five categories for an entire playoff series https://t.co/5tCfyA606A

James has plenty of talented teammates as well, including Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but that comes at a cost. McMenamin noted Cleveland's roster will cost its ownership approximately $130 million with an escalating repeater tax (which could mean $100 million or more of additional costs on the final bill).

That comes after the Cavaliers paid $54 million in luxury taxes last season.

However, Gilbert said on Tuesday he has no issue paying it to remain competitive, via McMenamin: "Not even a thought. Let's picture this: A little cash in the bank or a championship ring—what would you take? Not even close."

That will likely sit well with James, especially since McMenamin wrote that the superstar said he and Gilbert "have two common goals in mind" after Tuesday's shootaround. Those goals are continuing to build up the city of Cleveland and maintaining a winning franchise.

Two of the main pillars of the Cavaliers are on the same page as they begin their NBA title defense on Tuesday.


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