Dan Gilbert’s letter last night played to the Cleveland mob. The Dan Gilbert letter reflected Cleveland’s bitterness, although the letter may have been even more over-the-top. Anger and fury was expected from the city of Cleveland, after LeBron James abandoned them to ruin. Since Cleveland is now officially the most hard-luck sports town of all-time, their fans are used to frustration. Such vitriol is not usually expected from an owner, but the Dan Gilbert letter was almost a fitting end to a wild, bitter night.
The Cavaliers owner went off on the player who saved his franchise, and then may have doomed it again. His open statement to the city of Cleveland calls James “our former hero” and that his ESPN special was a “narcissistic, self-promotional build-up.” But this was only the opening salvo.
The Dan Gilbert letter reassured the city that the rest of the organization would “NEVER betray you” and that the Cavaliers would win a title before the Heat did. In fact, he even laid the entire sports curse of Cleveland at James’ feet, promising that it would follow him to Miami.
Clearly, the Dan Gilbert letter played to the bitter base of Cavaliers fans, who now believe the franchise is finished. Without James, the Cavaliers are expected to collapse into obscurity again, but Gilbert had to state confidence in the team somehow. Yet, saying that the Cavaliers will win a title before the Heat, and that James has taken the Cleveland curse with him, may have been too confident.
Gilbert’s bitterness at James is a bit ill-timed, since, if he had stayed with Cleveland, he would never have said any of this. He would never have slammed the build-up for James’ decision if he chose to be a Cavalier, of course. In addition, any complaints about his ego have little credit, since Gilbert helped build it up in the first place.
Although the Dan Gilbert letter likely made bitter Cavs fans happy, he still may not escape some blame for this. James never had a successful supporting cast in Cleveland, which could be laid at Gilbert’s feet. He himself laid down at James’ feet to try to keep him, and ultimately, he still couldn’t promise more than the Heat, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh could.
Some thought went into the Dan Gilbert letter – at least in topping himself for wild statements. But, now, Cleveland fans must hope Gilbert put as much thought into the post-James era. He has known that this could happen for years, so he should have developed a plan B in mind by now.
Bitterness, and the Dan Gilbert letter, are probably necessary for Cavaliers’ fans to get through the next few days. However, Gilbert must be more creative if the Cavs are to win again without the “former King”
NBA.com- “Cavaliers: Open Letter to Fans from Cavaliers Majority Owner Dan Gilbert”
ESPN- “Dan Gilbert’s disastrous letter”