LeBron James has never been arrested. He’s never gotten into a public feud with teammates or coaches. He’s never become embroiled in any controversy away from basketball.
However, he once changed teams as a free agent.
For that, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote, “This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown ‘chosen one’ sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And ‘who’ we would want them to grow-up to become.”
The sting of those harsh words doesn’t fade easily.
Chris Broussard of ESPN: "One reason, if not the major reason, that LeBron James has taken so long to decide whether to play in Miami or Cleveland next season is the infamous letter Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert penned about James after the superstar left Cleveland in 2010, sources said. If it wasn’t for that letter, this would’ve been done awhile ago,” one source said."
I wouldn’t blame LeBron for still holding a grudge over that letter – especially because, as of this year, Gilbert was still defending it and the Cavaliers’ official website was still hosting it.
But I question the timing of this leak. If LeBron were still so upset by the letter, how did the Cavaliers remain in contention for his services so long?
Neither the Cavaliers nor Heat offer all positives or all negatives. If one did, LeBron would have already made his decision. LeBron could still pick Cleveland and remain furious about the letter. No matter which team he picks, he’s not going to a perfect situation. He must weigh what matters most to him.
But the letter was released four years ago. LeBron should have been factoring it – and Gilbert’s presence – all along. Why is it suddenly getting more consideration now?
Maybe LeBron is leaning toward returning to the Heat, and he’s laying the groundwork for that decision. The letter gives LeBron a reasonable reason to reject Cleveland, and he might want everyone focused on that, even though there are obviously more considerations in play.
I don’t know. It’s just a theory.
I do know Gilbert’s letter was heinous, and I still haven’t gotten over the disgustingness of the tone. (See, if that were LeBron’s strategy, it’s working.)
- Dan Feldman, NBC Sports