CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is well-known for his shocking public statements regarding LeBron James. To that end, Wednesday’s latest bombshell should come as no surprise.
Hours before the Heat was to play the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, Gilbert took to Twitter with a message directed at Cavs fans: “Cleveland Cavaliers young talent makes our future very bright. Clearly, LeBron’s is as well. Time for everyone to focus on the road ahead.”
Focus on what road ahead, exactly?
The message served two purposes. First, it was a public plea for Cavaliers fans to go easy on James on Wednesday night rather than boo him unmercifully and chant stuff like, “Akron hates you.”
Secondly, but more importantly, it was Gilbert’s way of extending an olive branch to James. James can opt out of his current contract in 2014, and it’s never too early to start courting the best player in the league.
And, of course, here’s the cynical translation of Gilbert’s tweet: Please, for the love of God and my pocketbook — but mostly my pocketbook — cheer for LeBron tonight.”
Don’t forget, that when Gilbert lost James to free agency in 2010, the Cavs’ owner lost bank-vaults worth of revenue potential.
Gilbert’s obnoxious open letter to James in 2010 was more about damage control than anything. He attempted to place all the blame for losing James squarely on James’s shoulders, despite Gilbert being the owner that managed to lose a homegrown star in the prime of his career. Remember, James pleaded for more talent while in Cleveland, but Gilbert never delivered.
Gilbert did, of course, deliver this public screed, making James the scapegoat for the franchise’s failures: “I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our ‘motivation’ to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.”
That “motivation,” apparently, is to now somehow get James back to Cleveland.
James, of course, refuses to address the ever-expanding sentiment that he might be thinking about returning to Cleveland. On Wednesday, he dodged all questions about his future.
“Right now I’m focusing on right now,” James said.
The big leak
Wednesday’s game was scheduled to begin at 7:08 p.m. but actually began at 7:47 p.m. because of a leak from the arena’s scoreboard.
During warmups, fluid began dripping from the overhead scoreboard and onto the court. Arena personnel were forced to send the teams back to their locker rooms, lower the scoreboard and correct the problem. According to the Cavaliers, excess condensation from carbon-dioxide canisters caused the leak.
“Scoreboard is leaking fluid on to floor,” Gilbert tweeted during the snafu. “We need to lower scoreboard to fix. Never seen this one before. Going to be several minutes to fix.”
Heat owner Micky Arison chimed in with a classic one-liner: “Never thought I would tweet WTF.”
Arison later deleted his tweet.
On Wednesday morning, James pulled no punches in analyzing his colossal slam on Jason Terry.
“It was one of my better ones,” James said. “And the fact that it happened to J.T. made it that much sweeter because I think we all know what J.T. talks and he talks too much sometimes and I’m glad it happened to him.”
James’ use of trash talk in public is so rare that his comments during shootaround almost seemed a little premeditated.
Indeed, the Heat’s sideline reporter asked the question that elicited James’ reaction to the dunk.
In other words, the Heat really, really dislikes the Celtics and Terry in particular. After all, it was Terry who scored 27 points in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals for the Mavericks.