“The Decision” and its reverberations

Perhaps I haven’t been looking too hard to find commentary that says otherwise, but I’d swear I haven’t come across one positive statement about LeBron James and his “Decision” to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. I’m not talking about the decision itself but rather of its execution. If we momentarily ignore the truism that says all publicity is good publicity and look at the merits of the various PR campaigns associated with the event, we might find it safe to say they’ve been a slight disaster. (I’m trying to soften the criticism a bit.)

The two main events are probably the hour-long special on ESPN and the scathing open letter sent out by the Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert. The first has been called a “media circus,” “a cultural low point,” and “Embarrassing. Overdone. Underwhelming.” One writer stated that “James was so concerned with the pursuit of his celebrity that he ran [his fans] over with this self-empowering TV special.” Some have found it shameful that James would decide to hold his event at a boys and girls club and proceed to dump his many fans on national television: “[A]lmost overnight, one of basketball’s most likable figures has turned into a complete jerk.” One blogger even has even written a press release that should have been — but, sadly, wasn’t.

Dan Gilbert’s open letter has fared no better. It has been endlessly criticized, is costing him a whopping $100,000 in fines, and has even mysteriously disappeared from the NBA web site. The original letter showed up in Comic Sans font, a font style universally hated by folks in the design community. Apparently, the media relations staff at the Cavaliers “begged Gilbert to not send the email, but he ignored the pleas and wanted it out immediately.” I wholeheartedly feel their pain.

The letter has been compared to “10th grade melodrama,” the reaction a slave owner would have to his runaway slave (although others claim that Jesse James’ criticism actually makes Gilbert look better), and a venomous validation for James’ exit. It’s clearly a letter written in anger that would have greatly benefited from a calm eye and a red pen.

If you’re curious, here’s a copy (and here’s a visual of the original at this site). Do tell us what you think.

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, 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.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

Dan Gilbert

Majority Owner

Cleveland Cavaliers