So, Dan Gilbert Was Wrong

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“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.”

–Dan Gilbert, July 8, 2010

———-

It’s been two years now since Dan Gilbert sent that letter out on a warm, bitter summer night. Two years, or a lifetime. I don’t really care too much how anyone else feels about the letter, but I will be forever grateful to Mr. Gilbert for sending that letter. We live in a world where everyone feels the need to bite their tongue and hide their emotions and not say what’s really in their heart.

That night that LeBron James left Cleveland was painful. I was 7 years old when The Drive happened. It’s a painful memory, and I cried actual tears when Rich Karlis, an Ohio native, booted the game winning FG. But I was too young to fully understand what it meant in the context of Cleveland Sports.

For me, the pinnacle of Cleveland Sports Misery was Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Cleveland had their title. It was in the palm of our hands. Jose Mesa just needed two more measly outs and we were going to celebrate like never before. We all know what happened, and I was crushed with a sports pain I had never felt before. It took me a very long time to get over that one. In some ways, I’m still not over it.

But I’ve never felt bitterness toward that Indians team. I loved that team. I still love that team. God knows they gave it everything they had. Jose Mesa didn’t want to blow that save. He didn’t choose to let the Marlins tie the game. He just didn’t have it in him, and the Marlins got key hits when they needed it.

LeBron was different. Not only did he leave us with a bitter on court disappointment (the mystery Game 5 disappearing act), but he turned right around, upped the ante and not only chose to walk away from us, but he chose to embarrass us in the process. The way Cleveland is now perceived by national media and sports fans across the country was directly set up by LeBron James’ actions and choices.

Sure, Cleveland fans could have handled it better. Dan Gilbert could have acted more professionally. But that night was raw. It was the deepest cut most Cleveland sports fans, or any sports fans in any city, had ever felt. There’s no practice session or owner’s manual on how to process that kind of visceral outpouring of emotion. Everything that happened that night was nothing short of real. It doesn’t get any more real than that night.

On a night in which Cleveland was kicked down to the ground and being stomped on by the media and laughed at by sports fans everywhere else, Dan Gilbert tried to pick us up a little bit. He showed us that hey, LeBron might be gone now and people are going to start ripping our franchise, our team, and our fans, but Gilbert had our back still. I understand why everyone outside Cleveland (and even some in Cleveland) hated that letter, but I wish they’d at least try to see it from our point of view and understand why we appreciated it.

But the guarantee of winning a championship first never made much sense to me. I never believed it. Nobody ever really believed it, did they? I’m not even sure Mr. Gilbert believed it. So now that LeBron James has his Championship while Cleveland still sits and waits, does this change anything?

I don’t know if I believe in curses or not. I do believe in karma, to a degree. I believe that the choices we make have a direct influence on the outcomes we experience. Choosing to do good things and to be nice to people and helping people out when they need it causes good things to come back your way. Not as any kind of mystic power, but just by the very nature of how those you help and are nice to tend to return the favor.

Dan Gilbert said this would reverse the curse. We’ll have to see about that. But Gilbert also said that until LeBron does right by Cleveland, he’ll experience nothing but failure and Miami will experience his curse. For a year, that seemed to be the truth. Everything that happened last season was a direct result of The Decision. LeBron chose his path and he was falling under the weight of his own pressure.

But something happened in the offseason. Brian Windhorst wrote at length about this, but LeBron almost seemed to realize that things had to change. I’m not going to say he did right by Cleveland. But he put his personal life in order, he spent time back in Akron during the lockout, he worked on his post game, he apologized for the way he handled The Decision, he threw an olive branch in Cleveland’s direction. In a lot of ways, he grew up.

We saw a changed man in the playoffs this year. I said a lot of dumb things when LeBron left. I said Miami will never be his team and that even if he wins, it will be riding Dwyane Wade’s coattails. I was bitter, I was an idiot, and I was wrong. LeBron James didn’t ride anyone’s coattails anywhere this postseason. He threw his team on his back, just like we always hoped he would do against Boston when he played for Cleveland, and refused to be stopped on his new path toward a Championship. He was pure greatness in these playoffs.

So am I LeBron James fan again? Heck no. I was rooting against him like crazy, as is my right as a Cleveland fan to do. I will never root for LeBron James again unless he’s wearing a Team USA jersey or a Cavaliers jersey. But I saw LeBron cast aside his bitterness. He allowed himself to be humbled, and he grew from it. Now it’s my turn.

I’m tired of being angry, bitter, and sad. This is sports. It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun. I allowed not just LeBron James, but the entire specter of Cleveland Sports to cut that part out of my heart. I decided a couple months ago to let go of the hurt and anger of LeBron leaving. Look, I’m not going to tell anyone else how they have to feel. If you’re still bitter and angry, that’s your right and I’ll defend you against anyone telling us to “just get over it”. It’s a personal decision. And for me, I let it go, and I’ve felt much better for it.

So as I watched LeBron James and his Miami Heat pull away from the Thunder last night, and the moment I never wanted to see happen was becoming more and more certain, I was surprised at how I felt. There was a little sadness, seeing Miami get yet another Championship at Cleveland’s expense. But other than that, there was just benign numbness. I wasn’t angry. I just didn’t care. So LeBron James won a title. At the end of the day, it doesn’t change my life one bit.

I was stunned this morning as I found myself able to listen to sports radio and watch SportsCenter and listen to people gush about LeBron James. And I felt nothing. It was a liberating realization that it doesn’t matter to me. My allegiance lies with the Cleveland Cavaliers. I put so much of my passion and my heart into following the Cavaliers, and this series had nothing to do with Cleveland. The Cavaliers haven’t played a game since April 26th. LeBron James has nothing to do with Cleveland or the Cavaliers anymore. He’s moved on.

Cleveland isn’t cursed. Cleveland is lucky. Cleveland is a small market city that gets to support 3 franchises. How many cities would kill for an NBA team? I live in Columbus. I can tell you that Columbus would give anything to have the Cavaliers. I sometimes feel like Cleveland sports fans have been driven so Championship crazy that we forget to count the blessings before us.

Of course winning a title is the goal. We all want to experience it in our lifetime. Yes, we’re a tortured, battered, scarred, beaten down group of fans. And we take pride in owning that misery. It’s a part of our passion. Other cities make fun of our passion, but it’s because they don’t understand it. It’s different in Cleveland and we should be proud of that.

But maybe it’s time to let go of some of the Championship anxiety. As I listened to Mike and Mike this morning (yes, a cardinal sin, I know), Marcellus Wiley mentioned how he remembered a class in college where they were talking about setting goals. Having goals is important. But Wiley said his instructor made the point that you can’t achieve your ultimate goal until you learn to focus on the first step. Maybe instead of fretting about the ultimate goal, we should stop and think a little bit about the first step in front of us.

Things aren’t so bad in Cleveland. The Cavaliers are lucky. We have Kyrie Irving. Do you even realize how fortunate we are to have a franchise player so soon after losing the last one? Kyrie won’t be LeBron James. Nobody ever will be. That was a once in a lifetime situation where a local guy gets drafted by his home team and becomes the best player in the game.

What Kyrie Irving is, though, is a leader. A player who loves crunch time. Who loves attacking the rim at the end of games. Who loves shooting clutch free throws. As a rookie.

Cleveland has the 4th overall pick and four picks in the top 34 of the draft next week. A championship isn’t going to be won in one draft or in one offseason. But the groundwork is being laid. And even if the Cavaliers never win a Championship, so what? Yeah, it’s not an ideal outcome. But rooting for the Cavaliers is fun. Spending cold Ohio winters watching our men in Wine and Gold as we partake in a Christmas Ale or two, joining in with fellow Cavs fans on Twitter, Facebook, and the comments section on this website. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

If you told me the Cavaliers were never going to win a Championship no matter what, and then gave me the choice to either keep them in Cleveland anyway or let them go elsewhere and give up on rooting for them all together, I’d choose to keep them. Winning a Championship is the goal. My desire for a title in Cleveland isn’t diminishing. That’s not my point. My point is, it’s time for me to stop sacrificing all the benefits of rooting for sports teams in Cleveland for the sake of putting too much importance on winning a title.

———-

I still feel like LeBron would have won a title in Cleveland had he stayed. I think he would have eventually learned the lessons he needed to learn. But maybe he had to leave. Maybe he had to be broken down. Maybe he had to go through being the villain. Maybe this was all a process to get him where he was always destined to be, an NBA Champion.

And maybe so, too, is this our process. There’s no question the Cavaliers learned some valuable lessons from the LeBron era. They learned about team building. They learned about handling superstars1. They learned about expectation, loyalty, ego, and disappointment.

LeBron James built himself back up. Now it’s Cleveland’s turn. And I honestly believe that process has already begun organically.

In Cleveland, the Indians are a good team. They’re a fun group to watch, and they maximize the most of their limited abilities. It’s a true team. And they’re closer to a World Series than most of us realize. The Cavaliers have a great player in Irving and are positioned to add more talent. The Browns…..well, they’re still the Browns. But hey, in the spirit of positivity, let’s imagine a world where Trent Richardson is the real deal and Brandon Weeden turns out to be an elite QB. It’s not impossible.

We spend so much time in Cleveland focusing on the negatives, but man, for a city with such bad sports teams, we have a lot of positives to think about as well. So, if anything, I’ll take the high road and thank LeBron for helping me realize this. He doesn’t care how Cleveland feels today, and I don’t care how he feels today. This isn’t about LeBron James anymore. Today, I am proud and happy to be a Cleveland sports fan.

So sure, Dan Gilbert has been proven wrong and everyone can have a nice giggle fit over that. You think this is the worst Cleveland has ever felt? Please. We’re pros at handling heartbreak. But if we refuse to learn anything along the way, we’re just going to keep finding ourselves in this same position.

I’m not happy LeBron won a title. I just don’t care. I really don’t. He was always going to win one. He’s going to win more. He’s the best player on the planet. There’s a reason we wanted him to stay so bad despite the fact he “quit” in that Game 5. There’s a reason we defended him against people like Skip Bayless. He’s a great player. Denying that fact isn’t going to change anything.

But he doesn’t play for Cleveland anymore. And Cleveland still has the Cavaliers. We still have the first place Indians. We still have the Browns. We’ll be just fine, thank you.

One day, Cleveland will win a Championship again. And when that day comes, the ghosts of our pain will wash away in a current of unbridled joy. When we get our turn to celebrate, our failures will serve as the foundation of our joy, but it will be just that….foundation. Buried underground, not seen by the outside world, and but a mere afterthought.

To paraphrase Mr. Gilbert, we will have died AND gone to heaven. Doing it the right way, so to speak. And it will have nothing to do with LeBron James then either. So congrats, LeBron. You did it. Whatever. I’ll save my emotional response to an NBA Championship when it’s the Cavaliers hoisting the trophy. Dan Gilbert may have been wrong about who wins one first, but he was right when he said:

“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….”

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. by doing it the wrong way []
  • nj0

    Completely agree.

    I can’t think of another person who has done so much damage to the national rep of Cleveland as Gilbert. He had the chance to step up to defend the region and opted for spewing hateful, childish insanity.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Andrew,

    What you felt as the game slipped away for the Thunder was something that most adults realize as they age…pro sports don’t matter. As fans, we act as though our rootig interest has some impact on the outcome but it doesn’t.

    I agree with you that pro sports are fun to watch, and if you can’t enjoy it if they lose, then I feel sorry for you.

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    Best article I’ve read on this debacle so far. Im hoping the last one too. Unlike you I didnt have the heart to watch the game, sportcenter, or listen to espn radio last night or this morning. Im still bitter and trying to not care but I do. But trust me if we ever win a championship here in Cleveland that bitterness will some day fuel my joy.

  • E

    lol at this guy..

  • Shadow_play

    Hooray for us!

  • Harv 21

    way to rub it in, Gloria

  • Ohio Bound

    Rocko, Take a deep breath! Comments like yours are what makes Cleveland fans look obsessive and weird!

  • Yup

    Great article except the part about the Indians. I would fix it by saying “they’re farther away from the WS than you realize.” Otherwise, well done. I found myself feeling the same way about LBJ…

  • Jake

    If you want to compete Gilbert then do WHATEVER it takes to get MKG in this years draft! He can be the cavs James Harden but with better defense. Offer anything and anyone other the Irving to get him and more picks weather this year or the future! “Reverse the curse.” What curse! Bosh said years ago “I will never play in Cleveland.” No free agent will come to play here thats the reality. Its also not a curse when you make wrong decisions year in and year out. I remember the lottery promises of Langdon, Wagner, Mihm, Diop, D Anderson, L Jackson. Are they players cursed, no they all sucked! Cleveland isn’t cursed they make bad decisions! Make the right one this Thursday and draft MKG and stop giving us fans false hope Gilbert and start producing wins!

  • floydrubino

    I always thought it was weird that people has not seen this for what it is. Lebron’s “decision” was brutal to deal with but it changed nothing for me. When I woke up the next morning I loved cleveland sports the same if not more. He changed nothing. The reason why I was upset was no different when any championships are won. To be able to be in cleveland celebrating would be one of the best days of my life. I don’t want to get in arguments so let me say that I think Dan Gilbert is a good guy and I’m not upset that he is the owner. My own personal opinion on the letter was in that moment he was upset from a financial standpoint(as all of us would be) and was using the fans before and after the decision. He was making so much money from the cavs and raising prices and doing the casino and all of these things but never thought lebron would turn his back on cleveland. When he said all those rants there is no way I would ever represent myself like that because he sounded ridiculous. It is what it is. I don’t feel bad because if lebron would of brought cleveland a championship imagine how we would of treated him. He didn’t deserve for us to feel that way about him. He’s not worthy of this as true cleveland sports fans and not a whole bunch of transplants that have liked the heat since 2 years ago. He’s the one that lost out because Miami fans are horrible and genuinely could care less about their teams. Do you love cleveland sports any differently since lebron left. Of course not.

  • Tim K.

    Your first point is something I’ve been putting a lot of thought into. For years I’ve always been like “Why wouldn’t big free agents want to come here and be saviors and win a title for this town and be idolized forever?” Then, I thought to myself, “What if I was a mega-star NBA player? What if someone said ‘Tim, you should go to Minnesota and help the Twolves win a title. You’d be a hero forever up there.'” Heck no. I wouldn’t want to do that, and I needed to take my Cleveland colored glasses off to realize that.

    Hopefully everyone starts coming around to the idea that loving sports stars such as Joe Haden or Josh Cribbs, who embrace this town, is great, but we can’t assume every athlete is going to join that crusade. The best that can happen is the organizations here build good TEAMS that free agents and such want to come and play for. They’re not coming for the city and they’re not coming for us, and we need to accept that.

  • http://twitter.com/Sheri_Hill ILoveLadybugs

    I’m an Ohio native. Although I’m a big football, basketball, baseball college and pro sports fan, I don’t follow Ohio sports that closely. However, I am very embarrassed by the behavior of Dan Gilbert and Ohio fans who have acted so childishly about a young man who was exercising his right to free agency. After all, if he was traded, you would not have cared one bit. He was 25 and probably got bad advice from his advisors on “The Decision.” But he certainly made THE RIGHT DECISION.

    The worst part of my shame for you is that I live in Arizona. How ridiculous to be an ARIZONA resident ASHAMED OF OHIO RESIDENTS! Please, It’s time to grow up and move on. And Dan Gilbert — what a silly man-child. Grownups would have congratulated LeBron and gone on about their business getting ready for the next season.

  • Petefranklin

    Don’t forget quitter.

  • zonk

    Jordan would beat Lebron on the court, on the course, on the diamond, and then for giggles, on the felt of a poker table.

  • TD

    GREAT read Rock… Awesome stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/Skandalous Douglas Jones

    His “dignity” and his “integrity”? He was a free agent, not Jerry Sandusky. And you can’t move on 2 years later–but James is the one who’s “selfish”? No wonder he left!

  • KDSF

    Fantastic article. Almost perfectly captures my feelings about LeBron, Cleveland sports and being a fan of Cleveland sports. I’ll disagree with the sentiment of rooting for LeBron if he’s in a Cavs uniform again but I get your point. In my mind, LeBron should never be welcomed back to the Q. If the Cavs win a championship, it should be entirely WITHOUT Lebron. If we’re lucky, someday under the savvy, veteran leadership of All Stars Kyrie Irving and Brad Beal, the Cavs will go through an aging LeBron James to get the Cavs’ first NBA title. Even if it doesn’t play out that way, I’m with you and will keep rooting for the Cavs no matter what.

  • Jared in LA

    Yeah, I understand with other athletes that it would in no way be on their agenda to come to Cleveland or care that much, other than they have pride for themselves and the people they are representing when they put on the uniform. That’s why Lebron leaving was so infuriating, he’s FROM here.

  • http://twitter.com/Skandalous Douglas Jones

    But has he gotten any marquee free agents or playoff wins since LeBron left?

    Good luck with that.

  • http://twitter.com/Skandalous Douglas Jones

    He didn’t ignore the fans; he’s MOVED ON. Last night was about the Heat championship, not what Cavs fans are feeling.

  • wamthrill

    Stop, please just stop.

    Seriously, can anyone suggest any place on the interwebs where people like me that agree with Rocko can vent without well-meaning, yet annoying people telling them not to feel what they feel?? (Or annoying trolls yelling HEET RULZ!!!)

    By the way, excellent article Andrew. I’m envious that you’re over the hate… I may never be.

  • floydrubino

    We disagree on this one. If you do anything why wouldn’t you want to be the best. No matter what it is Hey let’s go out and run around around on the court for awhile. If there goal isn’t being perfect every time then why practice or try to get better. Cleveland sports teams should have a mentality of we want to win a championship every second of the day. Not hey we almost made the playoffs so we had a good year. No frickin way. You try your best at evrything no matter what it is. When I pull a potato chip out of a bag I’m trying to get a great chip every time. So the cavs are going to try less than me trying to get a good chip.

  • Kildawg

    Very good read. I believe the city of Cleveland will have a WS, SB, or NBA Championship (hopefully all three) in my lifetime. We can feel pride in that 2002 Ohio St. Buckeyes National Championship team and what the Clippers have done the last two years. The City of Cleveland will have some form of championship and our celebration will be like nothing before.

  • floydrubino

    Cleveland is not down and getting kicked. There is a ton of support for cleveland sports teams. Your love of cleveland sports is bigger than just one person.

  • floydrubino

    I agree with you and it’s refreshing for someone to be just as embarrassed as I was to have some guy represent us in an immature way. I know he was mad that he lost money but he was using everybody for his own benefit and banked on lebron to not turn his back on cleveland. It’s over now and Kyrie is a great piece to build from.

  • Jaker

    That was perfect. sharing it to facebook now

  • saggy

    makes me sick to hear national media say LeBron apologized. Until he holds a press conference in prime-time at a boys-and-girls club, and apologizes on national TV, i don’t consider it an apology.

    the guy is amazing, we all know that. but the greats, the TRUE greats: Jordan, Kobe, Duncan, Bird, Magic – they NEVER gave up and tanked a game like LeBron did against the Celtics.

    I’m past all this “decision” crap, but, because of his ON COURT performance that day against Boston, I’ll never be able to agree to let LeBron into the pantheon of true basketball immortals.

  • saggy

    i can’t agree that athletes are more sheltered than others. my teams regularly competed in Europe when we were teens and pre-teens. I don’t know anyone else who went to Europe without their parents, and experienced crazy things at age 12. Athletics has brought tremendous enhancement and worldly sophistication to many who have had the privilege to play at a high enough level.

    so i would argue that athletics has made many men far more rounded and whole than they would have otherwise been.

  • UCBearcat2016

    Since when does a Durant/Westbrook led powerhouse (although young) OKC squad, a fairly strong Celtics team, and a highly underrated Indianapolis squad qualify as junk teams? I continue to despise what LBJ did to this city but it can’t be denied that he earned this championship and that it was far from easy to get there.

  • DKH

    Uhh…Kobe definitely gave up sometimes (http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/200605060PHO.html), but then he’s not really a true great, in my opinion.

    Anyway, yea, LeBron’s history is still his to live with. No reason Cleveland fans should like him or ever welcome him. He appears to want to forget his time in Cleveland, but it’s not like he can abuse the support of so many fans and hope that everyone else will forget with him.

    But I don’t really care that the Heat won. It’s just, “hey, that season is over”. Maybe that’s because I don’t particularly much care for the NBA. In some sense, it’s also nice, because I really do think LeBron is the best player in the league and so it’s fitting that he got a title, if only to stifle the stupid analysts that try to rate individuals based on team accomplishments.

  • DKH

    Well, this comment system butchers links. Here it is (or remove the closing parenthesis from the previous one):

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/200605060PHO.html

  • tiredofitall

    Very nice writeup. If I were to split hairs, I’d say that Cleveland already had a bad rap as a sports town, and Lebron’s sin was to kick the city when it was down and rub salt in the wound. He was maliciously trying to add to the legacy of “The Drive,” “The Fumble,” “The Blown Save” with “The Decision.” But in reality, as only Cavs fans really understand, how he added to that heartbreak was not with “The Decision,” but with “Game 5″ – the Boston debacle. That team was up 2-1 and good enough to win it. He obviously quit in that series, but it was NOT malicious – he showed the same thing when he quit against Dallas the following year. How he quit against Dallas, for me, was healing. But the bottom line is that he is the most physically gifted basketball player in history, and was always destined to win a championship wherever he played, even if by accident. Had he toughed it out and it happened in Cleveland when he was 30, 31, 32 – he would’ve been the most beloved player in sports. Now he did it earlier and is only beloved by the bandwagoning frontrunners (and there’s always a lot of those). But now we move on. Go Cavs – they are moving in the right direction, and doing it the right way.

  • Harry

    HEET RULEZ LOSERS!

  • TDanger19

    Before I get to my overall point (which some will definitely say is totally negative), I want to say I really liked this article. It was impressive writing and very moving.

    That being said, I think you are putting giving WAY too much credit to Dan Gilbert for trying to “pick up the fans” with that letter. Dan Gilbert doesn’t care about the fans; Dan Gilbert wouldn’t care if LBJ mooned you all from a limo outside the Quicken Loans Arena. What Dan Gilbert was mad about that night was the 140 million dollars in franchise value he lost when LeBron blew town.

    It seems to me, if they were serious about creating a championship team there, they wouldn’t have went looking for the cheapest players available to surround James with, while simultaneously throwing all their money at James. The supporting cast in Cleveland was not just bad; they were abysmal, and since Kyrie Irving came to town, they have improved by just two games over last season. All James needed was one consistent go-to player, and you would have had your magic team. But the front office never ponied up to get one, and the whole thing was starting to smell like the Minnesota Timberwolves to James. I don’t agree with how he left, but there’s no denying why.

    Just so you know, I grew up in Orlando. I understand your pain.

  • Harv 21

    i qualified that saying “in important ways.” I am certain that what you say is trueas far as dealing with homesickness, partying young, and I’d say that LeBron specifically was more sophisticated about his mercenary status and the oddness of fandom than we were. But I was referring to more important things.

  • saggy

    Haha. Touché!

    Dan Segelin
    Director of Athletic Performance
    The New York Fitness Institute

    dsegelin@thenyfi.com
    718.864.6878

  • Koz

    Awesome drew! I was in the Casino in Cleveland during the game, and noone seemed to care. It was an O well type of mentality. Lets Win our way with people that want to be here. I felt the exact same way you did. I just did not care.

  • Koz

    Very tired of people saying we didnt surround him with anybody though….

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Just so you know, the Cavaliers were WAY over the salary cap and had one of the 5 highest payrolls in the NBA over LeBron’s final 4 seasons in Cleveland. It is 100% incorrect to say the Cavaliers didn’t spend money. If you want to say they spent on the wrong players, fine. LeBron wasn’t even Cleveland’s highest paid player, so I’m not sure where you came up with the impression that Cleveland just threw all their money at LeBron and signed cheap players to surround him. It’s simply false.

    RkPlayerSalary
    1Shaquille O’Neal$20,000,000
    2LeBron James$15,779,912
    3Antawn Jamison$11,641,095
    4Mo Williams$8,860,000
    5Anderson Varejao$6,300,000
    6Delonte West$4,254,250
    7Daniel Gibson$4,088,500
    8Jamario Moon$2,750,000
    9Anthony Parker$2,644,230
    10Sebastian Telfair$2,500,000
    11J.J. Hickson$1,429,200
    12Leon Powe$855,189
    13Darnell Jackson$736,420
    14Jawad Williams$736,420
    15Danny Green$457,588
    16Coby Karl$311,896
    17Cedric Jackson$53,834

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    You and me both. It’s hilarious how quickly everyone rewrites history and forgets how great those last two Cavs teams were and the fact that tons of analysts picked the Cavaliers as favorites to win the title both years. I don’t care how old Shaq was, a lineup of Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, LeBron James, Antawn Jamison, Shaquille O’Neal with Varejao, Ilgauskas, Delonte, and Moon coming off the bench was absolutely good enough to win a title. They just didn’t get the job done.

  • tas

    I’ll give you a free advise.. : it’s just sports man! JUST SPORTS.. and LeBron James is just a man.. ok?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    You really should have read the article before commenting. That’s the exact point the article makes.

  • Dan Gilbert (Alter Ego)

    Thank God I left Cleveland. I love being from the city, but it is a mess. Stop waiting on sports to save you. LeBron was 25 years old and a kid that put the whole region on his back for 7 good years. I enjoyed watching him play. He did something that no one has been able to do since the 80’s Browns, and that’s reinvigorate a community, which indeed is a cesspool of disaster. If we really want to be winners, turn off the TV and stay up reading to your children, put a smile on your face, and thank God for another day.

    Thank you LeBron for your time served and the memories you gave us. If you ever want to return we will welcome you with open arms.

  • Dan Gilbert (Alter Ego)

    Oh, and can we trade the Browns to Toronto for the Argonauts?

  • isac

    Dan Gilbert is an ass. Cleveland will never win a title with this guy.

  • http://www.basesandbaskets.com/ Elijah

    This is an absolutely fabulous article. I can definitely understand the disappointment you felt and as a fan of the Bay Area teams, I can tell you when it gets better you will forget a lot of things. The Niners, Giants, Warriors, and Raiders were terrible for a decade but (some of them have) finally pulled it together. The Giants have hit the top of the mountain and the Niners are on their way up. The Warriors and the Raiders, well…

    Like you said, you guys have Kyrie Irving, so don’t worry. It will happen. Sticking with your team when times get tough shows the resiliency of not only the organization but also the fan base. I didn’t particularly enjoy watching the Cavs beat up on the Warriors last week, but you guys will earn every win you get.