When LeBron James left Cleveland, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert retaliated by firing back with a tersely-worded open letter to Cavaliers fans.
Released a couple of hours after James’s decision (I’m trying to be professional here and keep the opinions to myself. No promises), Gilbert’s letter was exactly what a devastated Cavaliers fan base needed to here. When the remaining people at the place where I work noticed the letter on the TV, there was applause and cheers. I don’t think any one of us believed his guarantee that the Cavs would win a title before LeBron wins one with the Heat, but it felt good to have someone stick up for us after this betrayal.
At the time, I wished the Dolan family was more like Gilbert: vocal, aggressive, and willing to risk it all to win.
Then, Gilbert started running his mouth, calling James a quitter. I thought it was a little unnecessary and I kinda wished Gilbert had acted more like the Dolan family and had just let his basketball people doing the talking.
While I would like the Dolan family to be more vocal and less of a “behind the scenes” owner, I can appreciate that they prefer to let the baseball experts do the talking. They obviously don’t have the pockets that Gilbert has, and baseball is probably the worst sport to be a small market team, nor have they ever lost a superstar on the level LeBron James was. And while James’s punk job on the Cavs was probably worse, the Indians having to trade Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez a year and a half away from free agency was pretty bitter.
So why did I feel more confident in Gilbert’s words of comfort, even though James’s betrayal was more devastating to the franchise? Because Gilbert has always been public in the five years of ownership, he’s always done everything he could to win, and he’s always been vocal.
Gilbert has one more thing going for him. The Cavs, unlike the Indians, have been able to fix their mistakes. Granted, a lot of this has to do with the salary cap in the NBA works. One bad contract doesn’t handcuff them.
This is where Cavs fans will find out if Gilbert can make good on his promises, or if it’s just more empty words. Gilbert swallowed his pride and did a sign-and-trade with the Heat – for the betterment of the team. It’s a good start, but we shall see.
As for the Dolans, I think they could learn to be more vocal like Gilbert. There’s a difference between whining and stating a fact. There is an economic imbalance in baseball, and the Dolans need to speak up and start being noticed. Make some noise, you’re a textbook example of everything that’s unfair in baseball. Or, they could speak up on smaller issues, such as instant replay, when Armando Galarraga missed his perfect game versus the Indians on a bad call.
I’m not a Dolan-hater. I think the Dolans are one of the biggest reasons the Indians are still in Cleveland, and that is commendable. I just want to know they exist. We want to know you’re making a stand for our team.
You learn a lot about your team’s owner when times are tough. Now, we find out who Dan Gilbert and Larry Dolan really are.