I tried to get cute with this, to pretend as if the children in question were the real heroes, and that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was the immature one, but it's probably best to let the facts speak for themselves.
Gilbert was one of the worst enablers in the run that has led to LeBron James'(notes) current role as acting as one of the least self-aware, most self-absorbed entertainers we've ever seen. Gilbert allowed James' inner circle, self-styled "representatives," to run wild all over the Cavalier organization. If you had to point to a singular presence that allowed James to become the distasteful type that he's become — once accounting for age, prominence, role and objectivity — Gilbert is the one worth wagging a finger at. Because he's unshackled, in this instance, by the excuses of familial relations, gigs on James' staff and age.
Gilbert, well into his 40s, should have known better. And yet, he let LeBron be LeBron. His fault, at twice LeBron's age. He should have known better.
And yet, after LeBron acts like LeBron and announces that he's off to the Miami Heat in a nationally televised mess, it was Gilbert that acted the mug, lashing out in a hilarious "open letter" to "Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight"; because, yeah, screw you Southwest Ohio.
NBA commissioner David Stern was not as amused as us, despite the Comic Sans font, and he fined Gilbert $100,000 last week. And because children are children and they see things in black and white terms (hey, like Gilbert did!), some Cleveland-area youngsters have taken to the streets in order to help pay Gilbert's fine.
That's right. LeBron is so tactless, that Gilbert's immaturity is coming off as heroic, and children have taken to setting up a lemonade stand in order to raise funds to help the Cavaliers' multimillionaire pay off his fine. A fine that he'll no doubt be able to pay off once the first of his community-crashing casinos open up just outside of the Cleveland area.
Take it away, AP:
Children in suburban Rocky River sold lemonade Thursday to raise money for Gilbert's cause. They charged 50 cents a cup.
Ten-year-old Molly Sponseller says she and her friends wanted to show support for the Cavs and Gilbert. She says he's "not a bad man."
You're right, Molly. He's not a bad man. He lies a lot. He'll spin things in press conferences and force his PR people to take the heat for it. He'll completely and utterly enable James' miserable coterie of high school friends and embarrassing family members. He'll undermine his actual basketball staffers, so much so that they don't want to work for him any more — despite the money, and the ability to work with James. He'll make it so LeBron James, one of the worst examples of celebrity-gone-wrong in our modern culture, actually looks like a sympathetic figure in comparison to Gilbert's screed.
But, no, he's "not a bad man." I'm sure if Dan swung by your stand, he'd pay you at least a quarter. Maybe even full price. Then he'd sell your parents a predatory loan and point them in the direction of his new casino.
So sell on, young Molly. Because it's good to have heroes. Even if you find them utterly appalling by the time you hit high school.