SBD/July 14, 2014/Franchises

LeBron Goes Home: Dan Gilbert Expressed Regret To James Over Disparaging Letter

Gilbert offered a face-to-face apology to James last week
Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert on July 6 sat down with LeBron James and his "inner-circle and tried to absolve himself of a most wretched moment in time," when James left the Cavs in '10 and Gilbert wrote a disparaging letter about him, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. Gilbert told James, "We had five great years together and one terrible night." Gilbert said, "I told him how sorry I was, expressed regret for how that night went and how I let all the emotion and passion for the situation carry me away. I told him I wish I had never done it, that I wish I could take it back." Wojnarowski noted soon after, James told Gilbert that he "wished he had never done 'The Decision' on cable television and that they had made mistakes together, that they could move past it." Gilbert said, "It was more comfortable than I actually thought it would be. They made it easy for me." Gilbert "couldn't stop talking" about James' agent Rich Paul and LRMR Management Founder Maverick Carter, and how they were the "conduits to make it all work again." Gilbert said they were "so professional with us through the whole process" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/11). Gilbert said of James' decision, "We heard like everybody else. LeBron's agent Rich Paul called me this morning and just said, 'Congratulations, LeBron's coming home.' I said, 'That's pretty good news. How you guys going to get this out?' He said, 'Don't worry, it's already out.' They took care of everything. Rich Paul was incredibly professional, as was everybody around LeBron this time." Gilbert said of his meeting with James, "We sat down in Miami and we talked. We talked about the past and first wanted to get that all out of the way. ... I certainly talked about the things that I was embarrassed about and apologized about that night. We talked about a few things. We got it out of the way pretty quick" ("NBA Summer League: Cavaliers-Bucks," NBA TV, 7/11). More Gilbert: "I had told LeBron’s guys, whether he comes back or not, I really want to clear the air. It shouldn’t be like this. ... I apologized and we talked and it took maybe 15 or 20 minutes. That’s it. Then I said, ‘Is that enough about the past?’ And we started talking about the future” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/13).

DAN IN REAL LIFE: In Detroit, Vincent Goodwill wrote under the header, "Undeserving Dan Gilbert Wins Yet Again In Latest LeBron James Drama." It is "a little hard to believe in the benevolence of a man who took four years to apologize for defacing someone’s character in some emotional meeting in South Beach last Sunday" (DETROIT NEWS, 7/12). In Boston, Christopher Gasper wrote of Gilbert's letter, "Why did he wait until last week to remove his shameful missive from the team’s website?" He "should have deleted it ... the season after LeBron left" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/13). ESPN's Michael Wilbon asked, "If you have profound regret, then why didn't you say something before now? Why was this letter up on your team's website until four days ago? So if your regret is so deep and you want to make amends for this so desperately, why now? What happened the last four years?" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/11). SI.com's Phil Taylor wrote James’ ability to forgive "might be the most impressive aspect of his choice." Gilbert "excoriated him when he left, with a letter that was a personal attack on James' character" (SI.com, 7/11). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Michael Powell wrote the Gilbert-James relationship "comes packed with layered wariness," as Gilbert "led the hard-line opposition to the players union a few years back." James was "no less insistent, leading the opposition to the contract that reduced the players’ revenue share" to 50% (N.Y. TIMES, 7/12). 

WE CAN WORK IT OUT: In Ohio, Mark Podolski wrote fans may "never know what’s been said in the past few days between James and Gilbert, but both reportedly said their peace, apologized and left it at that." Podolski: "If that’s good enough for them, who are we to complain?" (Willoughby NEWS-HERALD, 7/12). In N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote Gilbert "now gets one of the great do-overs in the history of American sports" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/13).
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