SBD/Issue 73/Franchises

Gilbert Addresses Gambling Tie During Tuesday Teleconference

Gilbert Discusses
College Gambling Incident

In a “hastily called” teleconference yesterday, one day after announcing a deal to buy the Cavaliers from Gordon Gund, Quicken Loans Chair Dan Gilbert acknowledged that he had been arrested in ‘81 for “running an illegal gambling pool” as a college freshman at Michigan State, according to Alejandro Bodipo-Memba of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Gilbert suggested that the incident “was a youthful indiscretion that shouldn’t have any bearing on his ability to successfully run an NBA franchise.” Gilbert, on whether the arrest will hinder his chances of buying the Cavaliers: “I’m not concerned. If I was, I wouldn’t have gone through this process over the last 90 days.” Gilbert also vowed to “never speak about” the incident again. Meanwhile, NBA VP/Basketball Communications Tim Frank said the league “knew about [the arrest] before it became public” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/5). Frank indicated he could not comment on the approval process, but said that he did not “think the league ever has halted a pending deal” (DETROIT NEWS, 1/5). Gilbert needs approval from three-fourths of the NBA’s 30 owners before the sale becomes official. Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban said Gilbert’s arrest “won’t affect my vote at all. It just makes him more interesting” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/5).

UNUSUAL CASE: The AP’s Chris Sheridan noted the background check for a prospective NBA owner typically “is focused on finances rather than ethics,” and there is no language in the NBA bylaws “setting out what might disqualify a prospective owner.” But the bylaws do establish rules of conduct for existing owners including “prohibition on wagering on games” (AP, 1/4).

REAX: The AP’s Steve Wilstein wrote Gilbert’s transgression did not “stop him from being admitted to the Michigan state bar to practice law or from sitting on the board of a savings and loan. If nothing worse turns up, it shouldn’t stop him from taking control of the Cavs” (AP, 1/4). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “If you’re (NBA Commissioner) David Stern, when you introduce him, you have to say, ‘We’ve looked into this, it was a long time ago (and) we’re going to forgive and forget, but we’re going to monitor this closely.’” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “That’s for PR value. In the vetting process, this thing has to be incredibly thorough. They’re going to have to do the kind of background checks that they ought to do” (“PTI,” ESPN, 1/4). ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell added, “I don’t think this will hold up a $400[M] deal” (ESPNews, 1/4).

FAIR PRICE? Cleveland State Univ. sports economist Mark Rosentraub said that the Cavs “would have been worth $100[M] less” on the market without G LeBron James, adding that $375M is “’a fair price’ for the team, given the players under contract, their commitment to stay, the quality of the arena and the size of the market” (AP, 1/4).

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