Dan Gilbert Doesn’t Have A Clue

» September 26, 2008 2:15 PM | By Brandon Hoffman

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert chimed in on the LeBron to New York rumors again yesterday. Gilbert called the media attention payed to rumors of LeBron’s departure an “insult to the city of Cleveland.”

“It’s kind of an insult to the city of Cleveland in my opinion — an insult to the Midwest,” said Gilbert, who spoke to the media at the Cavaliers’ suburban practice facility Thursday, a few days before the team opens training camp.

“People in your profession are very bored on both sides of the country. There’s no basketball going on so they write this stuff,” Gilbert said.

So, let me get this straight: journalists and bloggers covering rumors of LeBron’s departure to another city is an “insult” to the city of Cleveland, but LeBron stating that New York is his “favorite city,” Brooklyn is his “favorite borough,” and attending major sporting events in the city of Cleveland outfitted in the opposing teams’ apparel is okay?

Gilbert offered similar thoughts last month:

“The only thing you can come up with is there are certain writers, or people who live on the East or West Coast, who think that Cleveland, Ohio, is not a good enough place for a superstar of LeBron’s caliber to spend his career. Despite the quality of the franchise, the quality of life in the Midwest, the fans — it’s a complete slap in the face from people who do not live in Cleveland, Ohio, to Cleveland, Ohio. That’s probably my biggest problem with the whole thing.”

I’ve read countless articles speculating on LeBron’s future. I’ll admit, I’m fascinated with the subject. And I’ve offered my thoughts on the rumors on numerous occasions.  But I’ve never questioned the “quality of life in Cleveland.” Nor have I seen anyone else do so.

I have, however, seen plenty of writers question the quality of LeBron’s supporting cast.The fact of the matter is this: the Cavs have done a terrible job surrounding James with a team befitting his talents. I understand that Cleveland is a long-suffering sports city with a losing tradition. But save the ‘woe is Cleveland sentiment.’ The Chicago Bulls were one of the lowliest franchises in the NBA when they selected Michael Jordan with the third pick of the 1984 draft. The Bulls were a laughinstock with a decrepit stadium and little to no tradition. Jordan elevated that franchise into one of the most recognizable franchises in the world. Even now, ten years after Jordan’s retirement from the Bulls, and after years of mediocrity, Chicago has one of the most loyal fan bases in the NBA. But contrary to popular opinion, Jordan didn’t do it alone. MJ had Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen. Where’s LeBron’s Phil Jackson? Where’s LeBron’s sidekick?

I’ve also seen writers state the obvious: LeBron James will make more money in New York City. That’s not an “insult” against Cleveland. It’s the truth. And it carries more weight with a player whose stated goal is to be the “richest man in the world.” Yes, I know the Cavs will be able to offer James a contract for about $20 million more than any other team. James would make up that $20 million dollar difference, and then some, with increased endorsements in New York City. LeBron’s contract with Nike expires in 2010 as well, and it makes perfectly good business sense for Nike to offer James incentives to play in New York. LeBron would definitely sell more shoes and jerseys in a larger media market. Yes, I know LeBron doesn’t receive a penny from his jersey sales. But he will profit from the free advertising if every kid in New York City is rockin’ a Knicks or Nets jersey with James’ #23 on the back. LeBron might not make up the $20 million dollar difference in one season, but he would make it up.

And make no mistake, LeBron’s jerseys would fly off the shelves if he played in New York. It doesn’t matter if James signs with the Nets or the Knicks, LeBron would take over the ‘basketball mecca’ as we know it. New York City would be his. Charley Rosen wasn’t exaggerating when he stated James could “easily become the greatest player of all time” if he improves his defense, outside shooting, and post-up game. LeBron’s potential is limitless. That’s why the Knicks and Nets are trying desperately to put themselves in position to sign LeBron. And that’s why the LeBron to New York storyline has been — and will continue to be — a hot topic. The stakes are that high.

The ‘rampant speculation’ has nothing to do with the “quality of life in Cleveland” and everything to do with LeBron James’ basketball talent, his weak supporting cast, and James’ decision to perpetuate rumors of his departure. If Gilbert should be pointing a finger at anyone, he shoud be pointing it at LeBron. And if James leaves Cleveland, Gilbert will have no one to blame but himself.

12 Responses to “Dan Gilbert Doesn’t Have A Clue”

  1. dusty Says:

    i would say the cavs missing out on allen houston (knicks) and having to settle for mo williams in the offseason would be a sure indicator that lebron is leaning toward the knicks.

  2. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Hey Dusty,

    How’s the record business treating you? And your daughter Nique, I hope she’s well.

    I don’t know how Houston is going to get minutes in NYC. But if Quentin Richardson continues to stink up the Garden, I suppose the Knicks could use Houston’s shooting ability.

    I’m counting down the days until the season starts. I know you are too.


  3. Tsunami Says:

    You still don’t get it.

    It IS disrespectful to the city. LeBron wearing the yankees hat is DISRESPECTFUL TOO! But I think there’s a conflict of interest there so Gilbert isn’t going to call out LeBron.

    The point is, everyone made a big stinking deal about LeBron going somewhere else in 2006 and when he resigned with Cleveland NOT ONE WRITER said “oh shit, we didn’t see THAT coming.” But instantly “Holy cow, he only signed a 3 year deal – he’s gone in 3 years.”

    Has LeBron EVER said he doesn’t like his situation in Cleveland. Answer: no. Is it PURE SPECULATION that LeBron will make more money in NYC? YES. LeBron is already OVER-EXPOSED: Vitamin-Water, Sprite, Nike, MTD Lawn and Garden, Powerade, Bubblicious. ETC ETC ETC. He’s already THE MOST MARKETABLE player in the NBA and is the third most marketable athlete after Tiger and Phil in terms of raw dollars earned from endorsements.

    NY isn’t going to MAKE LeBron. LeBron MAKES LeBron. And jersey sales mean nothing. Do I think his shoe sales would go up in NYC? Yes. Do I think everyone in the WORLD wants to see LeBron in NYC other than Cleveland fans? Yes. And THAT is PRECISELY why all this is disrespectful. Cleveland has a history of losing fan favorite all-star athletes to free agency. But this is the first time in history that the MEDIA is leading the coup.

    Jamming this crap down the throats of people everywhere 2 years before anything can even happen is just riGODDAMNdiculous. You’re taking an awfully hard stand against Gilbert here. Did you happen to listen to the ENTIRE press conference? Or are you just basing your opinion off of the AP article?

    He didn’t insinuate that the MEDIA hates Cleveland (although they do) nor did he insinuate that this LeBron stuff was some kind of conspiracy (although it most certainly is). What he said was people are bored and because of it they are writing speculation about something 2 years down the road – which has the UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE of disrespect to the city. (although it’s totally intended) Watch his interview and tone of voice – he isn’t combative, he’s mildly frustrated.

    If you watch further into the press conference he demonstrates how much things change in two years in the worlds of professional sports and business. Exhibit A: Miami Heat. Exhibit B: Housing Market.

    The Cavs have the pieces to contend with the best teams in the NBA and the defense to withstand a grueling playoffs. There is no reason to not include them in the 4-6 elite teams in the NBA this season. They have a chance to be even BETTER next season should they package Wally Szczerbiak’s riDONKulous expiring contract to get a solid veteran starter – think Vince Carter or a name like that.

    You’re not from Cleveland – and I’ve said to you before, you don’t know what’s it’s like to be from Cleveland. Sure, Cleveland has a victim mentality, which I hate (even though I often propagate it.) But I don’t make stuff up – I pay ATTENTION to what is said and who says it. Gilbert’s not even from Cleveland. Last year they put him with the TV crew for a quarter and he talked their ears off. And one of the things he got into was this mentality. And he bluntly said that when he first got here he heard Clevelanders complaining all the time about being slighted by the media and by other cities. He thought it was a whiny defeatist attitude and he didn’t want it to be part of the Cavalier culture. And then he said, ‘But you know what, they’re absolutely right – NO ONE likes Cleveland in the national media and they take every opportunity to disrespect a great city and a great organization.’

    The writers can write what they want – I’m numb to it now. Hell, the last time I stumbled across a LeBron2010 article I found my OWN WORDS written in it – made me pretty happy. But to call out Gilbert on this is just bogus.

    As far as your Cleveland sucks at surrounding LeBron with talent rant…

    IN 2005 Danny Ferry made a bunch of knee-jerk moves because he was AFRAID LeBron would leave. He had to address outside shooting and perimeter defense, so he signed 3 guys that filled those needs. Since that time, he has made shrewd moves and this year he drafted for the future – not for the present, which tells me he is confident that LeBron is going to be around for a while.

    Part of the issue is the organization, part of it is REALLY bad luck with players just completely tanking after signing with the Cavs (lucious harris, larry hughes, damon jones), part of it is Boozer’s pulling a fast one, and part of it is LeBron. Yes, LeBron. Up to this point, he has always been Cleveland’s best ball-handler and has assumed point guard duties. And when they Cavs have tried to play other guards alongside him (Eric Snow, Larry Hughes, Delonte West, Boobie Gibons) LeBron has not developed a back-to-the-basket skill set and LOSES INTEREST on offense (not defense) when he isn’t controlling the play. TO THIS DAY, I can’t tell you if LeBron is our point-forward, our small-forward, or as you wrote in a piece earlier this summer, our next POWER Forward. There are no more excuses though. He has enough talent and depth around him at the guard positions this year that he HAS to learn to finish plays without STARTING them. And he will.

  4. Tsunami Says:

    Also – I don’t agree with the way you presented this article. Your title is Dan Gilbert doesn’t have a clue and we’re supposed to ASSUME it because of Gilbert’s ‘disrespect’ quote. But then you go off on your familiar and predictable (face it we’re both predictable when it comes to this issue by now) rant about why YOU THINK LeBron will be in NYC. We’ve been over this. What does this have to do with the bombardment of articles being DISRESPECTFUL?

    I’m a Cavs fan. From about 2004 until 3 weeks ago, I found EVERY SINGLE ONE disrespectful to MY CITY and MY TEAM, and ME.

    So now Gilbert is speaking out for people like me, and he’s paying the 2nd highest salary in the NBA so that we have a winning team, and you’re writing an article about how he doesn’t have a clue because DAMMNIT – the JERSEY SALES! THE ENDORSEMENTS! He’s not saying “there is no chance LeBron will leave” (then I’d give you permission to say he’s being naive) – but he’s saying things like “he’s never given us any indication that he isn’t very happy here”. Well, guess what – he’s the OWNER, and he would know that.

  5. dusty Says:

    wow tsu,

    that gave me goose bumps. passionate write right there.

    i just finished watching the sports reporters on espn.

    and you’ll never guess what topic screamin’ a. smith’s closing monologue covered………

  6. Brandon Hoffman Says:


    I can see I’ve got you riled up, so I’ll try my best to keep this civil.

    First of all, I didn’t go off on a rant about why I think LeBron will leave Cleveland.

    I titled this blog ‘Dan Gilbert Doesn’t Have A Clue’ because if he honestly believes that this remains a story because the NBA media is “bored” or because they want to “insult” the city of Cleveland than he doesn’t have a clue.

    LeBron could be playing in about 28 other NBA cities and given the circumstances (his friendship with Jay-Z, his monetary aspirations, the quality of his supporting cast, his stating that New York is his “favorite city,” and the FACT that two New York based NBA teams are cleary cutting salary to make a run at him) the storyline would remain. This has little to do with the city of Cleveland and everything to do with LeBron James the basketball player and the circumstances perpetuating the rumors.

    You’re right, it is speculative to believe LeBron will make more endorsement money in NYC. But that belief is grounded in some basic economic principles. Yes, LeBron already has a lot of endorsements. And he’s a very marketable athlete. But we’re talking about New York City — the largest city in the United States and the largest media market in the world. There isn’t an NBA city that can compete with New York — even LA. I’m sure that LeBron has quite a few fans in New York already, and he probably sells a lot of apparel. But it’s not beyond reason to believe that his sales would increase if he played in New York — they would.

    I mean we’re talking about the purchasing power of the largest city in the United States — you can’t ignore that, and you and and the people of Cleveland shouldn’t take that as an “insult” because it isn’t. The more “Vitamin-Water, Sprite, Nike, MTD Lawn and Garden, Powerade, Bubblicious” products LeBron sells, the more money those endorsers are going to be willing to pay him.

    Gilbert and a lot of Cavs fans are trying to make this story personal. “It’s not personal, it’s business.” Sportswriters and bloggers are doing their jobs by reporting on this story, not because they have some personal vendetta against Cleveland. No one “hates” Cleveland. No “conspiracy” exists.

    You and Rooster (Dusty) accused me of “hating” Cleveland for a long time. Hopefully I’ve proved otherwise. I don’t “hate” Cleveland. If anything, I’m indifferent to the city. Even though I’ll admit that I made a lot of snarky comments at the Dime blog two years ago. I (and everyone else) write about the rumors because it’s LEBRON JAMES and NEW YORK CITY.

    As for my comments regarding LeBron’s supporting cast and Cleveland’s front office — I’m going to be very blunt. If I was Gilbert, Danny Ferry is gone after the Larry Hughes fiasco. That signing never had a prayer of turning out well.

    General Manager’s have been canned for a lot less. Kiki Vandeweghe engineered Denver’s turnaround and he was fired because he drafted Nicolas Tskitishvili and signed Kenyon to a max deal before he got injured. I saw Tskitishvili play before Carmelo’s rookie season and the kid had Nowitzki like talent. Kenyon was coming off of two straight NBA Finals appearances and was a former number one pick. No one can predict injuries. Everyone makes mistakes in the draft. Dumars drafted Darko over Wade and Bosh.

    The big blockbuster the Cavs made last year was a lateral move. Yes, I know it looked good in the playoffs and you gave Boston all they could handle. But I wouldn’t put too much stock into that. As we’ve discussed, Boston wasn’t playing their best ball at the time. I would put more stock into your regular season struggles since those encompassed a much larger sample size.

    I’m not sold on the Mo Williams addition. I’m not entirely against it either because you gave up nothing to acquire him. But I think it was another case of Ferry making a move to make a move. I don’t see any rhyme or reason to his decisions. Williams is a guy that needs the ball to be effective, otherwise he’s going to end up as another spot up shooter in Mike Brown’s rudimentary offense.

    Mike Brown is a great defensive coach. But he’s clueless when it comes to putting LeBron in position to maximize his offensive skills. Brown has the most versatile offensive weapon in the league and he has no clue of how to use him. It’s sad to watch. And I agree, LeBron deserves some of the blame for Cleveland’s stagnant offense. But it’s Brown’s responsibility to run the show rather than let LeBron do whatever he pleases.

    That’s why I ended the blog by stating Gilbert will have no one but himself to blame if LeBron leaves. Because Gilbert has empowered Ferry and Brown, and both of those guys are in over their heads. The stakes are HIGH, Cleveland has the most talented player ever. And Gilbert has employed middle-tier talent in his front office. Maybe that will change next season, we’ll see. But I think Ferry and Brown’s ineptitude has been pretty obvious up to this point.

    I’m going to be honest, I’m leading towards picking Cleveland to make it to the Finals this year. But not because of their roster. And definitely not because of Mo Williams. I like Cleveland because I don’t think Boston can repeat and because of what I saw from LeBron James this summer. That’s it.

    Again, I titled this blog ‘Dan Gilbert Doesn’t Have A Clue’ because if he honestly believes that this remains a story because the NBA media is “bored” or because they want to “insult” the City of Cleveland than he doesn’t have a clue.

    Gilbert also questioned why the media was paying more attention to LeBron instead of Wade and Bosh. What??? Because he’s LEBRON-FREAKING-JAMES.

    I’ve seen Gilbert say something similar to “he’s [LeBron's] never given us any indication that he isn’t very happy here.” So because Gilbert says that LeBron has never said anything to him, we should all ignore LeBron’s actions and comments that indicate otherwise, and remain silent until 2010?

    Are you kidding me?

  7. Brandon Hoffman Says:


    I’m going to be off-line for most of the day.

    You and I are never going to agree on all of this. But I hope gave you another way to look at things.

    I don’t “hate” Cleveland. And I haven’t seen anyone “insult” Cleveland.

    I have seen people question the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise and compare Cleveland’s market to New York’s. I think there’s a difference between doing that and “hating” or “insulting” the city of Cleveland.

  8. King_Kaun Says:

    yeah, I dont think its insulting. Its a very real possibility, so you cant blame journalists for being journalists. Hey…Tim Duncan nearly went to Orlando…or remember how McGrady announced he was signing with Miami, but then switched and said Orlando the next day??

    A franchise player switching teams is huge. Look at Elton Brand and Baron Davis. People were stunned…and most media members were caught off-guard by those occurrences. How can you blame them for trying to stay ahead of the curve?

    p.s. you should be scared about LeBron leaving…fyi…

  9. Tsunami Says:

    Hoff – first of all, I feel no HATRED coming from you on this issue (anymore) – so don’t worry about that.

    Second: not EVERY aspect of this issue is disrespectful, but SOME OF IT IS.

    The FACTS behind the speculation remain – and simply reporting them is not disrespectful. The facts about the market size of NYC compared to Cleveland is not disrespectful, it’s just an obvious point.

    Here’s what’s disrespectful.

    The sheer volume of reports on this. Not much has changed since LeBron came into the league and now. He’s remained with the Cavs – he’s gotten better every year, he’s become more marketable every year, and the Cavs have slowly progressed each year. This year they have (by far) the most talent they have every had in the LeBron era. LeBron has worn his yankee hat a few times, and the reports just keep on coming out. There’s nothing NEW to report when half of these articles are written. And so the fact that Cleveland fans can NOT enjoy the first legitimate superstar they have had since Jim Brown because of constant media speculation is DISRESPECTFUL, whether or not that is intended.

    It’s like going over someone’s house for dinner, and speculating on whether or not you are going to get sick after eating their food. I mean, YES, there is a chance that the spices won’t agree or that the food is undercooked or and there was THAT ONE TIME when someone DID get sick (kinda like that ONE TIME Shaq left a max deal on the table). So as you’re driving up, you say to your friend “I really think there is a strong possibility we will get sick tonight.” Your friend assures you that it will be fine. 2 Blocks later, you dinner host calls you to inform you that dinner will be a little late because the oven wasn’t set right. “Oh great, we’re going to get sick, I know it.” While you are sitting down, you keep on repeating how there are so many X-Factors that MAY lead you to get sick. You have everyone take a VOTE on whether or not you will get sick…..TWELVE TIMES in FIVE MINUTES! You eat dinner, and you don’t get sick – at all. In fact, the food was delicious. Two hours later, your host brings out a cake – and you start lamenting how you are DEFINITELY going to get sick now – and that there is a greater chance you will get sick than NOT get sick eating this cake that was probably undercooked in an over in BROOKLYN. The next 2 years is spent in THAT LIVING trying to justify WHY exactly you will get sick if you stick that cake in your stomach.

    Um, yeah, you were kinda rude and disrespectful to the host – even though everything you said was VALID and possible. Now if you are a stuck-up elitist person from NYC or LA you could give a RATs ASS about being disrespectful to this cook whose oven is like 1/8 the size of yours. But the cook still feels slighted – and now HATES YOU for ruining the dinner party for him – the first dinner party he has had in decades – and possibly the last.

    Here’s the other thing that’s disrespectful – no long-winded analogy here. MANY of these articles either imply or flat out proclaim that LeBron will leave Cleveland because “well, it’s Cleveland”. I’ve seen that phrase like 100 times. The size of the market and yada yada is not included – just this idea that it’s a shitty town that no one likes, and it’s not good enough for someone like LeBron.

    Well guess what – there’s a lot about Cleveland that IS SHITTY. But there are lots of things that are good, and the sports fans there are some of the best. And it’s not like every other NBA franchise is just utopia. WFNY pointed out that the difference between Greater Miami and Greater Cleveland market size is negligible – after D Wade made the market size comment. And honestly, Cleveland has THE BEST practice facility in the NBA if not the world, one of the best locker rooms in the NBA – their attendance is great, and they have by far the best team attitude I have ever seen. No Excuses, Team First, Defense First, Me Last. And in spite of what you think of Mike Brown or Danny Ferry – those guys have gotten LeBron to buy into that concept. And in the age of Plaxico Burress and Chad OCHO CINCO – having a star that puts his team first on all fronts is something to be commended.

    And WHOA – you DON’T Like the Mo Williams signing? Um, have you seen this guys field goal percentage? He can flat out shoot – especially off the dribble. That’s been the Cavs BIGGEST problem offensively the last 5 years. LeBron has been the only DYNAMIC offensive player – by that I mean isn’t a one-trick pony. He can spot up, he can shoot off the dribble, he has an INSANELY high field goal percentage in the painted area, and he can pass the rock. Does he need the ball to be effective – YES. That is why LeBron is going to have to learn to play off the ball, because Mo Williams SHOULD start lots of plays.

    But make no mistake, Mike Brown WILL have Mo Williams playing defense by seasons end and his pure offensive ability will be enough to get the Cavs over those playoff scoring drought humps.

    Also, don’t underestimate the horrible chemistry and luck the Cavs suffered last year. Pick a player: Varajeo, Pavlovic, Boobie Gibson – if ANY of those guys remain healthy this year it will be a monster step up in production from last season – when they had just HORRIBLE regular seasons and then were all pretty much worthless in the playoffs. The Cavs are deep, talented, they have a young core, and they have LeBron and another dynamic offensive threat. If they rebound and defend, they can beat anyone anytime.

  10. Tsunami Says:

    where “over” = “oven” and “THAT LIVING trying” = “THAT LIVING ROOM trying”

    sorry, i made lots of typos I am really tired.

    Also – I shouldn’t have said Burress and Ocho Cinco. How about in the age of IVERSON, KOBE, SHAQ, VINCE CARTER, and SHAQ??

    “We’re talking about PRACTICE!?” “Ship out” [Bynum] [Grabbing Dwade's Finals MVP Trophy] [Not playing hard in toronto]

  11. Tsunami Says:

    lol Shaq…..AND SHAQ??

    that was 06 finals shaq and “how’s my ass taste” shaq – two different people.

    I’m going to bed…

  12. Why I Want LeBron to Fail (Forever) Part 1 of 3 – by Tom Pestak « Cavs: The Blog Says:

    [...] enough for LeBron and that he would never leave.  I believed the entire speculation was fueled by elitist writers (read the comments) who were simply jealous of our good fortune and lusting for our home-grown [...]

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