Dan Gilbert's Lesson On Hypocrisy

Sean CottenCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2010

CLEVELAND - JULY 8:  Police stand guard near a larger than life photograph of LeBron James after the announcement that James will play next season for the Miami Heat July 8, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. The two-time Most Valuable Player made the choice to play for Miami next season. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)
J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

A lot of people are celebrating Dan Gilbert for speaking his mind. I have to disagree... not with the speaking your mind, but with the hypocrisy.

Didn't "Loyalty" Gilbert just trade Zydrunas Ilgauskas, his longest reigning Cavalier, at the trade deadline? Didn't he fire Mike Brown after winning more games than any coach 2 years in a row? Didn't he push GM Danny Ferry out the door?

Were they justified moves? Maybe. The point is that the NBA is a business and LeBron is one of the very few players in the NBA worth more than he is able to be paid. That was clear to Dan Gilbert from his bank statements and increased net worth.

Gilbert is upset because he paid a premium for a franchise 5 years ago betting LeBron was in it for the long haul. However, when LeBron did not sign a max deal 3 years ago, it was clear that he wasn't sure about his future in Cleveland.

LeBron clearly came across as an egomaniac on Thursday when he declared he was "taking his talents to South Beach" (though if all proceeds really go to the Boys & Girls clubs, it was a well-seized opportunity to raise funds).

Regardless, LeBron played out his contract, made a finals and played in 71 playoff games in 5 years carrying an otherwise mediocre roster. He earned the owner and the city a lot of money while giving a ton of PR and proceeds to the Akron community. Gilbert crapped out last night and lost about 50% of his franchise value at 9:10PM ET. Clearly, he's bitter.

I'm sorry, but are people really applauding Gilbert for calling LeBron a coward 5 days after kissing his Nikes in the hopes that he would come back, maintain the franchise's value and earn Gilbert more money? Who's "loyal" and "cowardly" there?

I can't applaud Gilbert for his hypocrisy. If he didn't like LeBron he should have been a man and said "thanks but no thanks, my franchise will move on without you" or chastised him for "quitting" while he was there.

Now we'll see the reaction of other players. Players are well aware of how much money LeBron has lined Gilbert's pockets with over the last few years. Players also know that until they are "unrestricted" free agents, teams have all the control. Ask Marcin Gortat, who wanted to go to Dallas last year, but was held in Orlando by "restricted" free agency.

Ask guys who get traded every year and have to either leave their families and friends or move them to a new city on short notice. The owner's childish reaction isn't doing him any favors in the eyes of players and setting him up for failure in his "personal guarantee" to the city of Cleveland.

LeBron just hurt this franchise, but Dan Gilbert’s rant may have cost Cleveland more. No player in his right mind wants to play for an owner that lambasts a guy who has filled his coffers and carried his franchise for 7 (5 with Gilbert) years and 71 playoff games.

When Gilbert is forced to sell the franchise at a considerable loss, he will sell to the highest bidder and that bidder might also choose a warmer winter climate.


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