JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

When Crazy Owners Bite

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Back when I was a young employee at The Tennessean in Nashville, a bunch of staffers took a rafting trip to a river in Atlanta. I had never before rafted, and was always a bit nervous around water. Still, I got on my raft, began paddling through the rapids until—BAM! We hit a huge boulder and the whole thing flipped over. There I was, going backward down an extremely fast river, my legs slamming into sharp edges, truly fearful that I was about to die.

When I finally grabbed onto a stone and, eventually, got back into the boat, I flipped. “What the fuck!” I screamed at one of the guides. “Do you have any fucking idea what you’re doing? No fucking way I’m getting back in that boat! No! Fucking! Way!” Toward the end of my rant, I noticed my colleagues staring at me in utter disbelief. The heat of the moment was causing me to act like a shameful, classless 23-year-old brat. To this day, I wince thinking about it (I’m wincing right now. Really).

Tonight, in the immediate aftermath of LeBron James’ lame departure for the sun and fun of Miami, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert lost his shit. In a major, major, major way. He posted the following letter on www.cavs.com, and I urge you to read it fully. I have more to say at the end …

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”

You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

Dan Gilbert
Majority Owner
Cleveland Cavaliers

•••

Where to begin? Well, first off, I feel Dan Gilbert’s pain. As my pal Russ Bengtson just wrote to me on IM, “to leave Cle is one thing — to do it via an hour-long televised autoerotic asphyxiation is fucked.” There is no denying the point. James’ move to Miami wasn’t classless, because, quite frankly, who the hell wants to spend his 20s in Cleveland? Especially when a place like Miami beckons? I mean that as no disrespect to the fine folks of Cleveland, but the city is boring. Dull. Unexciting. I probably could have spent my lifetime writing for the Putnam County Press in Mahopac, N.Y., but once one grows up in Mahopac he desperately wants to leave Mahopac. That’s not a slight toward my hometown, just reality.

The way James went about this, however, was unbelievably classless and tacky; like some Vegas hooker having sex on the hood of an automobile in an effort to snag her own reality TV deal. Just so I get this straight: You ask ESPN for a one-hour slot … to scream “Fuck you!” to the place that raised and nurtured you? Really? Really?

So, yes, LeBron James is a yutz. A big one. But Gilbert’s letter was just sad and pathetic; a reason why—even if I somehow stumbled upon a $100 billion fortune—I’d never buy a sports team. Here he is, ripping a 25-year-old kid not really for the tactless way he announced his move … but for moving at all. How dare LeBron leave Cleveland after all it’s done for him! How dare he betray us! Disloyalty!

Dude, chill. The guy has a right to play elsewhere. He has a right to want to experience another part of the country; to play alongside Wade and Bosh. And for an owner to “personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA championship before the self-titled former ‘King’ wins one”? Well, let’s just say nobody’s holding their breath. If you didn’t claim a title with James, you’re not doing it with Delonte West and Jamario Moon, either (But they did just add Sebastian Telfair!).

Oy.

PS: Luckiest man in America—Byron Scott. He can do nothing but exceed expectations. Unluckiest man in America—Erik Spoelstra. If Miami starts anything worse than 7-3, big Pat takes over.