Tag Archives: Dan Gilbert

Don’t Cry For LeBron

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Little did the NBA know that when small forward LeBron James came onto the scene in 2003 that he would become one of the most polarizing figures that the league has ever seen. James was the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and he was seen as being a savior for a struggling franchise. Before James played one minute in the NBA, he was already a household name due to his exploits in high school. And as James came to the NBA straight out of high school, it didn’t take him that long to show that he belonged in the professional ranks.

As a rookie, James averaged 20.9 points and he was named as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. By the 2005-2006 NBA season, James averaged 31.4 points per game and he helped the Cavaliers win 50 games for the first time since 1993. And by 2007, James did the unthinkable which was to get Cleveland to the NBA Finals.

In seven years with Cavaliers, James had put the City of Cleveland back onto the sports map while becoming one of the top players in the NBA. But as good as James was, he could not help the Cavaliers win an NBA Championship, and when he had the ability to opt out of his contract with the Cavs in 2010, he would leave to join the Miami Heat.

With the Heat, James would win a pair of NBA Championships, while Miami made the NBA Finals in each of his four years there. However once the Heat lost the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, James would again opt out of his contract to become a free agent; this time to return to the Cavaliers.

And just like it was when James was drafted by the Cavaliers in 2003, he once again gave the franchise credibility. In James’ first three years during his second stint in Cleveland, the Cavaliers have made the NBA Finals in each season with him leading the franchise to its first NBA Title in 2016. However the well is beginning to run dry for James in Cleveland.

This past season saw James publicly express that he wanted the Cavaliers to re-sign general manager David Griffin. Griffin had orchestrated several key trades that helped the Cavs win an NBA Title, and more importantly he was a person that James liked for his ability to get the players to Cleveland that he (James) wanted there. But when Griffin’s contract expired at the conclusion of the past NBA season, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert chose not to retain him after he was seeking more money. And when Griffin was shown the door, it did not sit well with James. After losing to the Golden State in the NBA Finals, the Cavs have been dormant in regards to attempting to improve their roster. Trades to acquire the likes of small forward Paul George from the Indiana Pacers and swingman Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls fell through once Griffin was let go as the Cavaliers were operating without a general manager, while other contenders like the Warriors and Boston Celtics were getting better.

Kyrie Irving

Last week a bombshell was dropped when point guard Kyrie Irving let it be known that he wants the Cavaliers to trade him. Irving has spent all six years of his NBA career with the Cavaliers. Like James, Irving was the first overall pick of the NBA Draft in the year in which he was selected, but unlike James he was unable to elevate the Cavs in the fashion that James has. In three years without James, Irving was never able to help the Cavaliers to the playoffs, however he became a household once he played alongside James. But as vital as Irving has been in the last three years for the Cavaliers, he no longer wants to be in the shadow of James.

When the Cavs made Irving the first overall pick in 2010, he was expected to be first piece to turning things around. And when Irving signed a contract extension with the Cavaliers in 2014, he was sold on being the franchise player. But days after Irving re-signed, James decided to rejoin the Cavs which meant that Irving would be taking a backseat to him. As good as James is, other star players typically have to alter their game in order to accommodate him. Irving has somewhat done that, but he’s tired of it. With the growing frustration of James towards the Cavaliers front office, all signs point to him leaving Cleveland once again next summer when he can opt out to become a free agent. However Irving is attempting to beat James at his own game and jump ship while it is still afloat which would put a damper on the Cavaliers making it four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. However no one should shed a tear for Akron’s favorite son in James.

When James left Cleveland in 2010, he took a ton of criticism, but he also was praised by some people. The City of Cleveland has never been an attractive landing spot for NBA free agents and as much as James tried to get the top players to team up with him there, he simply could not make it happen. That would change once James joined the Heat as Miami is full of nightlife and partying which is something that most NBA free agents look at. James was also lured to Miami being that he would team up with shooting guard Dwyane Wade and power forward Chris Bosh. Heat team president Pat Riley also has a championship pedigree as he had already won a combined five NBA Championships as a head coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and Heat.

Riley built a championship team around James which led to a pair of NBA Championships. But Riley who has an old school approach to things and he would not let James get his way in regards to preferential treatment. James was also frustrated by taking less money and not always seeing Riley get the players that he wanted to Miami. And this led James to returning to Cleveland in 2014.

Dan Gilbert

However James was more than happy to return to the Cavaliers in spite of the fact that Gilbert wrote a very disparaging letter about him that stayed on the team’s website for four years. And it only came down once James decided to return to Cleveland. It was a strategic move by James to return to Cleveland since they had received the first overall pick in the NBA Draft three times during his four-year stretch in Miami. But if that wasn’t the case, James would have never returned to Cleveland as all of his talk about wanting to come home and win one for Ohio would not have ever come to fruition.

When James doesn’t get his way, he takes it upon himself and exit stage right in order to chase down another championship opportunity. However James must realize that team owners in the NBA are billionaires and they made their fortunes by not backing down to people no matter what star appeal that they possess.

So now the countdown for another sideshow with James has begun as teams around the NBA have already begun the process of piecing their rosters together in order to lure him on board. James will be 33-years of age by the time that he becomes a free agent and he will have plenty of mileage on his legs, but teams will still be willing to break the bank in order to chase the championship dream.

James has changed the game as the NBA has never seen a player of his caliber that chases rings only to have egg on face at each stop along his journey. James knew what Gilbert was about and he still decided to rub elbows with him once more. And now James will be stuck in Cleveland for another year while his sidekick in Irving more than likely won’t be there.

You win some and you lose some, and in the case of James his attempts to cherry pick his team in Cleveland may have officially come to an end.

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The Rich Get Richer

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It was recently announced that the Detroit Pistons had a deal in place to relocate to the downtown area in the Motor City. The Pistons have not played regularly in the city limits of Detroit since 1978 when they called the Cobo Arena home. From 1979-1988, the Pistons played their home games at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan before settling into the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan which has been their home ever since. Since being in Auburn Hills, the Pistons have won three NBA Championships and they’ve become one of the better NBA franchises, but the allure of Downtown Detroit was too much for them to pass up on.

The distance between Detroit and Auburn Hills is roughly 33.5 miles as it has never been an issue for fans from Detroit to make the trek to the suburbs which also saw the Lions play in Pontiac from 1975-2001. But just as it always is with any business move, money is talking the loudest in Detroit City.

The 1970’s saw teams moving to the suburbs as the result of more citizens living in suburbia. But since 2000 we’ve seen a push by sports franchises to relocate to downtown areas as there has been a revitalization of metropolises. The Lions moved back to Detroit in 2002 which has seen their new home of Ford Field host the Super Bowl in February 2006. The Tigers have always played within Detroit’s city limits, but they began playing at Comerica Pack in 2000 which is adjacent to Ford Field. The Tigers have enjoyed success at Comerica which has seen them win a pair of American League Pennants in five playoff appearances since 2006, along with hosting the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2005. The Red Wings have called the Joe Louis Arena home since 1979, but they will be leaving next year in favor of the new Little Ceasers Arena, and they’ll have company there with the Pistons.

Dan Gilbert

But the Pistons return to Detroit isn’t without controversy. In recent years Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has spoken to Pistons owner Tom Gores multiple times about moving his team back to Detroit. Gilbert suggested this primarily due to the fact that he owns property in Downtown Detroit where he could benefit from having the Pistons move there. Gilbert went as far to suggest that the Pistons should “remove” Detroit from their name being that they play in Auburn Hills. Gilbert’s words drew the ire of Pistons president of basketball operations/head coach Stan Van Gundy who felt that the Cavaliers owner “should worry about his own team”. And whereas Van Gundy’s stance was strong, he doesn’t have the final say on the business matters for the Pistons which is an honor that goes to Gores as free enterprise and capitalism have won out as Gilbert is on a roll.

Gilbert found a superstar player in small forward LeBron James that was somehow willing to put the disparaging words of the Cavs owner from 2010 behind him and return to Cleveland in 2014 as the Cavaliers gave him the best chance to win an NBA Championship. And last June saw James bring a title to Cleveland, while Gilbert reaped all of the rewards. The economic collapse of 2007-2008 hit Detroit hard as the automotive industry was on life support which saw property value in and around Detroit drastically decline. Gilbert was quick to pounce on that opportunity and secure numerous properties in Downtown Detroit which now finds itself in the middle of a rebirth.

So the story will be that once again that the rich will get richer as he who owns the property and money will typically dictate how things are run. Regardless of what happens with the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Inc., which are just two of Gilbert’s businesses, he will continue to make money hand over fist due to the multiple properties that he owns in Downtown Detroit. And now with the Lions, Pistons, Red Wings, and Tigers all set to be within a stone’s throw of one another, the downtown area will be booming as the result of sports revenue there.

The only loser’s in this deal will be the folks who work at the Palace of Auburn Hills, or those that live close to the arena as those workers will more than likely be out of job now, while fans in the suburbs will have to commute to Detroit for games. But it is very difficult to stand in the way of progress, and Detroit’s economy should be set to really take off with the return of the Pistons; especially since they are once again becoming a perennial playoff team after missing the NBA Playoffs in six consecutive seasons.

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No More Excuses For The Cleveland Cavaliers

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LeBron James’ last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers was during the 2009-2010 NBA season. In that season the Cavaliers won 61 games in the regular season and they advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. After that season ended, James left Cleveland as a free agent to sign with the Miami Heat where he has gone on to win a pair of NBA Championships. In the aftermath of James leaving Cleveland, it took the Cavs nearly three seasons to match their win total during his last season there. When James left Cleveland, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert went on a tirade for the ages in the attempt to belittle James while guaranteeing that his team would win a title before James would be able to in Miami. Obviously Gilbert’s dream has not turned into a reality as the Cavaliers are 97-215 since James took his talents to South Beach. Since then the NBA has gone above and beyond the call of duty to “reward” Gilbert and the Cavaliers as they have “won” the NBA’s Draft Lottery an unprecedented three times in the last four years. In spite of being the first team get a crack during the NBA’s Draft buffet, the Cavs have not been able to grasp success and how many more free layups will they receive from the league?

The past few seasons have seen the Eastern Conference of the NBA be extremely weak. This past season saw the Atlanta Hawks qualify for the postseason with a losing record. The Eastern Conference was also home to four teams last season that won 25 games or less. With a team loaded with young players such as point guard Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers were unable to snatch a playoff spot. The Cavaliers were 33-49 last season and their lowest point came on February 5 when they suffered a 119-108 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers only dressed eight players for the game and for a good portion of the second half they only had five players available, but a full Cavaliers squad was unable to run them out of the gym.

After the season the Cavaliers fired Mike Brown and recently hired David Blatt as their new head coach and he’ll be the team’s third head coach in as many seasons. At last week’s NBA Draft, the Cavs selected former Kansas University shooting guard Andrew Wiggins who has tremendous potential, but how will he fit in with this team?

Last season Irving led the Cavaliers in points per game (20.8), assists (6.1), and steals (1.5). During the season Irving was accused by Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters of playing “buddy ball” with power forward Tristan Thompson which led to a rift between them. If Irving cannot spread the ball around enough between Waiters, Thompson, and himself, then what will he do with another mouth to feed when Wiggins joins the party? Not to mention that last year’s number one overall pick by the Cavaliers, small forward Anthony Bennett only appeared in 52 games last season without making a single start. Bennett would only average 4.2 points per game which are paltry numbers for someone who was the league’s top pick. Being the first overall pick of the NBA generally entails being a player that can immediately come in and be a difference maker; not a player that sits towards the end of the bench.

The NBA began the draft lottery in 1985 in the attempt to prevent teams from “tanking” the season on purpose in order to obtain a higher slotted draft pick. The only instance previous to the recent luck of the Cavaliers in which a team won the NBA’s lottery in consecutive seasons was when the Orlando Magic got lucky in 1992 and 1993. In 1992, the Magic were coming off of a 21-win season and they needed a boost. The Magic were able to get that boost when they used the first overall pick of the 1992 Draft on center Shaquille O’Neal. In O’Neal’s first season in Orlando, the Magic went 41-41 and missed the postseason by one game. In 1993, the Magic selected power forward Chris Webber who they immediately traded to the Golden State Warriors for point guard Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. In 1994, the Magic made their first playoff appearance and by the next season they were able to make their first appearance in the NBA Finals.

When the Magic got “lucky”, they didn’t go backwards, but instead they were able to go forward. But unfortunately for the Cavaliers they still have been unable to figure out how to succeed without LeBron James.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

 

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