Dan Gilbert’s name is in the headlines once again. Fourteen months after his scorched earth letter about the “self-proclaimed chosen one,” the majority owner of the Clevleand Cavaliers is allegedly one of the few NBA owners who is providing divide amongst the ongoing labor impasse. And much like the media circus that allowed him to defend his emotionally fueled email to fans, Gilbert is once again firing back at those attempting to disparage his name.
Just yesterday, ESPN/Grantland.com’s Bill Simmons took to Twitter to drag Gilbert’s name through the mud, stating that the Cavaliers’ owner “overpaid for years” but no longer wants the same system, an outcry which drew considerable response from fans of the NBA and Cavaliers alike. All that is asked is that those with Simmons’ point of view actually consider both sides of the story; myopic viewpoints are for lazy and redundant op-ed columnists, not someone who generally has a well-rounded opinion of the league despite never living in a small-to-mid market within his adult life. Alas, in likely refutation, Gilbert opted for the broad brushed right hook by grouping all bloggers as salacious individuals who strive to astonish their collective audience.
It as this time, being what I would consider to be an NBA blogger that I will choose to assume that the Cavaliers’ owner is calling out Simmons and Simmons alone. After all, roughly one week before the hullabaloo insued on the major blogwaves, WFNY reported a Chris Mannix soundbite from Cleveland’s very own 92.3 The Fan; Gilbert was grouped in with Washington’s Ted Leonsis, Phoenix’ Robert Sarver and Boston’s Wyc Grousbeck. While there is considerable potential to point out the obvious Simmons-Grousbeck connection (which too can be categorized as “sad and pathetic”), it is also worth pointing out the piece penned by TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott – also an ESPN property – that listed Gilbert, Leonsis, Sarver and Grousbeck in with Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, Dallas’ Mark Cuban, Denver’s Stan Kroenke, Detroit’s Tom Gores, Memphis’ Michael Heisley, Milwaukee’s Herb Kohl, Philly’s Josh Harris, Portland’s Paul Allen, Sacremento’s tandem of Joe and Gavin Maloof, San Antonio’s Peter Holt, Toronto’s Larry Tanenbaum and Utah’s Greg Miller. Not exactly a one-or-two-man band of hard-nosed negotiating and anchor dragging.
Not that a he-said-he-said argument, one held via Twitter nonetheless, carries much weight outside of confines such as WFNY, but Gilbert certainly has an argument in the light of his character being painted in an ill light – being a rogue extremist in a world in which 28 others agree to the terms of the players; a tea party representative at a democratic rally. It is remiss to not mention that the two owners that have also been singled (or doubled?) out are James Dolan and Jerry Buss – owners from two of the largest markets which have considerable impact within the media.
Naturally, as it has through nearly every other Gilbert-based story over the last 18 months, the fallout will likely be that the high-and-mighty will take to their e-mountain tops, shouting that Gilbert should just keep his mouth (and/or Twitter feed) shut and continue being a greedy billionare who wants to add to his presently considerable wealth, forgetting – or blatantly ignoring – that the man spent countless dollars to build a contender, barely broke even in doing so and still failed to successfully combat geography. But if this lockout has showed us anything, it is that no one side is going to paint the other as a friendly bystander and – depending on for what team said individual opts to have rooting interest – the blogissists will have to decide which side they choose to believe.