An Owner’s Role
‘Don’t get mad at the chess pieces, get mad at the chess player’
Sometimes I wonder how we—fans of professional sports—got it so backwards when it comes to how this thing truly works.
By now I am pretty sure you all have read Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert’s letter basically calling LeBron James “bitch-made” a couple of days ago. I think its truly fascinating how some folks have actually sided with the owner for the result of LeBron’s decision that now has him doing the Dougie in South Beach. Could I understand being bitter? Yes? Being sad? Totally? Even frustrated? Of course.
However, if Dan Gilbert thinks that I’m going to give him a pass because he feels “jilted” by LeBron leaving Cleveland for a better opportunity to win a championship then he’s obviously lost his damn move. You know why? BECAUSE HE’S THE FREAKING OWNER OF THE TEAM! That’s why!
Mr. Gilbert, you are a billionaire, and I assume that you made your millions upon millions that lead into billions up by being a fairly intelligent business man. I would then also assume that within your businesses you hired people to make decisions to be an industry leader. If that is to be the case, then I would bet that you tried to do the same thing with your ownership of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I think you tried your best, but sometimes you end up not getting it right. This sir is one of those times.
Let’s make a couple of things very clear. Number one, it is by the grace of God that you were able to land LeBron James in the lottery to play for arguably one of the most decrepit franchises in history. The fact that you landed the hometown kid, and seemingly resurrected this thing called Cavalier basketball near the Cuyahoga was the ultimate blessing. As an owner, your only job after receiving the greatest gift of all-time is to try and build a winner around him, and time and time again you seemingly failed at the task.
From the mismanagement of Carlos Boozer, to hiring a general manager (Danny Ferry) who brought on a basketball coach that was only capable of coaching one side of the ball (Mike Brown) and surrounding LeBron James with such a sad collection of talent that the second best player LeBron ever played with is a 34 year-old Antawn Jamison, a 37 year-old Shaquille O’Neal, and a point guard that was WILLINGLY traded by the Milwaukee Bucks in favor of Luke Ridnour by the name of Mo Williams.
Now a few of you might say that LeBron pushed to get a player or two, and you are right. However, last time I checked…who’s signing LeBron’s check? Dan Gilbert is! And you know what people do when they sign your check, they have the power to say no. Why was it that Jerry Krause was able to tell MJ no (trading Bill Cartwright away), and why was it that Mitch Kupchak was able to tell Kobe Bryant no (Kobe wanted Jason Kidd and wanted Andrew Bynum gone) but Dan Gilbert never empowered Danny Ferry or better yet, just tell LeBron himself…”No, we’re not bringing in Antawn Jamison. Let us handle this.” When did it become fashionable to start listening to someone who is between the ages of 18-24?
Fact of the matter is this, Cleveland had LeBron for seven glorious years. I would never sit here on my soapbox and say that LeBron is without blame, he certainly could use a bit of a talking to as well, but he’s not the big fish in this scenario. Gilbert is. Gilbert’s mad because LeBron had more juice than him, and the sad thing is that Gilbert knew it. Otherwise, he would’ve been able to handle this situation different.
Instead, he acted like a petulant child who just had their toy taken away. My mom told me frequently when I was a little tyke that if I don’t take care of my toys, she’ll find someone in need who will appreciate them much more. Gilbert’s toy is now in Miami, so I’d ask kindly that you stop crying and be a good boy and maybe you’ll get another toy to have fun with in the future. Good luck with that.
Eddie Maisonet is a freelance sports writer, blogger and big-time hoops fan from Oklahoma who currently resides in Cincinnati. Keep up with Eddie at SLAMonline as well as his award-winning blog Ed The Sports Fan and on Twitter.