Dan Gilbert, If Lebron James Is a "Coward" Then Why Did You Need Him?

Bill HareCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2010

MIAMI - JULY 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat talks during a press conference after a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

The period following Lebron James’ announcement that he would be taking his basketball talents to South Beach revealed that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner is something less than a logician.

To illustrate the point it, would be constructive to put together a syllogism and take it from there.

After the NBA season ended and Lebron James began shifting his attention in earnest to where he would be playing basketball after his contract with Cleveland had expired, a musical video showcasing some of the biggest names in Ohio, including Governor Ted Strickland, was released.

The number was to the tune of “We Are the World” but with the words substituted to convey the message “Lebron, We Really Need You.”  The tape was certainly put together with the blessings of Dan Gilbert.

When we take what was conveyed in the song and revealed repeatedly by the Cavaliers’ management in presenting the emphatic and consistent message that Lebron James was needed in Cleveland, a glaring absence of logic is conveyed in considering what owner Gilbert said after the former Cavs superstar announced that he would be playing for the Miami Heat next season.

In a letter that Gilbert wrote and had published locally, he accused James of being a coward who had deserted the city.  Later Gilbert would add that James was also a quitter, as evidenced both this season in an overwhelming Cleveland loss to the Boston Celtics and in 2009 against the Orlando Magic.

So here are the messages that Dan Gilbert has been recently conveying:

1)  Lebron James, not only do the Cleveland Cavaliers need you; the entire city does.

2)  Lebron James, you are a coward and a deserter.

3)  Lebron James, you are a quitter when you are needed most by your team in intense playoff competition.

If Gilbert believed that he was dealing with a coward and a quitter, then why ardently pursue him to the point of even making a video recording?

If Lebron was in Gilbert’s view the kind of player who lacked the necessary toughness as well as resolve when a prospective NBA title lay nearby, would he not be eager to be rid of him?  Wouldn’t it make sense to seek players he believed were better adapted to come through for Cleveland in playoff competition?

Had this been a situation in which Lebron James was engaging in an act of disloyalty by leaving Cleveland, could he have been assured that, if and when Gilbert decided that his star player was no longer benefiting the team, the owner would retain him out of a sense of abiding loyalty toward the player?

Once that James had fulfilled the terms of his contract, he had every right to perform his services for another team just as Gilbert as a businessman possessed the right to deal his player away or refuse to sign him to another contract if that had been his wish.

Gilbert also complained that James, during the period between the end of the season and his decision to sign with Miami, had failed to respond to telephone calls or text messages.

The Cleveland owner is on more solid logical ground in a context in which he claims that James should have exercised professional courtesy in his dealings with him.

In the broader context, however, it must be remembered that NBA basketball is a business—and a highly lucrative one at that.  Just as Gilbert was under no obligation to retain James or any other player once that his contract expired, nor was the player compelled to remain in the city where he had performed brilliantly for seven seasons.

Two questions focus the picture.  Where were the Cleveland Cavaliers before Lebron James?  Where were they after he became a Cavalier?


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