Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote an open letter to fans on his team's Web site Thursday night after LeBron James decided to leave for the Miami Heat. Gilbert ripped James for his ''cowardly betrayal,'' his ''shameful display of selfishness,'' his ''shocking act of disloyalty'' and his ''heartless and callous action.''
Then Gilbert started screaming, going all-caps: ''I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE.''
Wow. That's a 48-year-old millionaire who sounds like a spoiled, petulant toddler, upset that one of ''his toys'' is gone. I hope this letter makes him feel better:
I couldn't believe your nasty letter was still posted on your team Web site Friday afternoon. I thought that after the emotion had passed, you'd come to your senses and realize that, frankly, you look like an ass. A friend or loved one should have told you as much. Maybe someone did. But being the successful businessman you are, you hardly need to listen to anyone, right?
The guarantee you made is pathetic, but it's pretty funny. You told fans they can ''take it to the bank.'' Really? Sounds like counterfeit to me. Dan, you can't guarantee jack! But if you can, anyone can: I guarantee that James and the Heat will win a championship before your diminished organization does! It's easy to make a bold proclamation, but the odds of mine happening are astronomically better than yours.
You talk about loyalty as if James owed you something. He had a contract, and he honored it. He had an option to go elsewhere, and he exercised it. He wasn't indebted to you or the Cavaliers. If your team hadn't been so sorry and won the No. 1 pick in 2003, another sorry team would've gladly signed James right out of high school. You act as if the Cavs provided him an opportunity that wasn't available in 29 other cities.
And loyalty? Seriously? Like the way you fired coach Mike Brown in May after he led your team to the NBA's best record two years in a row? Like the way you let go of general manager Dan Ferry, who disagreed with Brown's firing? Like the way you offered $6 million to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, hoping he'd kick the Spartans to the curb? Please. You're from Michigan and didn't think twice about Izzo being ''loyal.''
Yeah, that's why you would've given him a lap dance and more—in addition to $126 million—to ensure that he re-signed with the Cavs. If he did get a free pass in Cleveland, you were dying to re-up it. Instead, we saw who you really are when he declined your offer. And you're pretty ugly.
Good luck with that guarantee. I'm sure the NBA's best free agents now are clamoring to play for your team in beautiful downtown Cleveland. I'm sure they can't wait to play for an owner who conducts himself in such a mature, respectful, professional manner when faced with disappointment? Thanks to your infantile diatribes, you'll get exactly what you deserve!
Deron Snyder is a regular contributor to The Root. He can be reached here.