CLEVELAND – Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert offered nothing but thanks and praise to LeBron James Sunday night in contrast to the rip job he gave the superstar the first time he left the team eight years ago.
In a statement, Gilbert thanked James for breaking the 52-year championship drought in Cleveland and said he looked forward to retiring James’ “famous” No. 23 Cavs jersey. This happened after James' agency announced he had agreed to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Gilbert referred to the Cavs’ 2016 NBA title as "a championship that united generations of Clevelanders, both living and passed."
“Words do not express the meaning and the feeling this accomplishment brought to the people of Northeast Ohio,” Gilbert said. “None of this would have happened if LeBron James did not agree to come back home and lead the Cavaliers to the promised land. The entire Cavaliers franchise thanks LeBron for that precious moment and for all of the excitement he delivered as he led our team to four straight NBA Finals appearances.”
READ Gilbert's full statement below:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 2, 2018
Gibert wasn’t nearly so gracious in 2010 after James left the Cavs and signed with the Miami Heat. Gilbert called James’ decision a “cowardly betrayal,” and wrote in a letter on the team’s website, in all caps:
“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.”
James, of course, won two titles in Miami, and it took James to lead the Cavs’ to their first title in his second season back with the team.
But Gilbert, the billionaire owner of Quicken Loans, apparently still has a big ego and a jealous spot when it comes to James. A month ago, ESPN NBA reporter Brian Windhorst said in a podcast:
"Dan Gilbert believes that he can build a championship team without LeBron, and I think he is looking forward to trying. I don’t think he necessarily wants it to be next year, but I think Dan Gilbert would like to make a run of it."