SBD/February 17, 2014/Franchises

Cavs' Gilbert Reflects On Infamous Letter To Fans, Discusses Attracting Free Agents

Gilbert said he received nearly 2,000 responses to his letter
Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert said he "would’ve reworded the language" in his now-infamous letter to the team's fans following the departure of LeBron James in '10, but does not "regret sending a letter out to our fan base," according to Jason Lloyd of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Gilbert, asked about his relationship with James, said, "I just can’t get into that because he’s under contract to another team." Asked if he regretted sending the letter, Gilbert said, "People forget the letter was not to LeBron, it was to our fan base. If I had to do it again, for sure, I would’ve reworded several parts of it. But I think it definitely needed a strong statement from me at that time. I keep a couple binders on my desk and I have a binder of the responses to The Letter from the people of Cleveland. There’s thousands, maybe 2,000 from every facet of life ... For some reason, it appealed to this generational Cleveland thing." Gilbert said of the letter's impact, "People said nobody would come here, that’s not true. Do I think any players are going to not come here because Dan wrote a letter three or four years ago? I don’t think so." Finally, asked if the Cavaliers could attract a marquee free agent, Gilbert said, "I think there’s a misconception in the NBA. I think that players, for the most part, care about the team itself, the franchise and where it’s going and who the other players are vs. whether it’s in Cleveland" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/16).

HEIR TO THE THRONE? Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving, who was named the NBA All-Star Game MVP last night, is set to be a restricted free agent following the '14-15 season, and ESPN's George Karl said, “There's no question when you get a young, great player, how you keep him in your city for that extra four or five years is so important to building.” Karl added, “You've sold goods to your fan base and then he goes? Well, you go back to zero. It's a tough sell." ESPN’s Jon Barry said, “The situation in Cleveland as it is right now, man, it's ugly. If this thing doesn't turn around quickly, I think they're going to have a hard time holding on to Kyrie Irving.” ESPN Radio's Mike Golic: “Obviously, it's not as big as when they lost LeBron, but he's still their best player. It would be a huge blow” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 2/17).
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