So NBA Commissioner David Stern is slapping Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert with a $100,000 penalty for his allegedly “ill-advised and imprudent” open letter that channeled the inner primal scream of every last fan from Northeast Ohio (including yours truly) in the wake of LeBron James’ “Decision” to depart our hometown for Miami?
Harrumph. Since when is “ill-advised and imprudent” grounds for a mega-fine? And even if it were, where’s the harm – or foul – in Dan the Man’s remarks that could possibly have sparked Mr. Stern to lighten his wallet by 100 Gs?
Let’s take a look-see:
“Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight.” So far, so good.
“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.” “Former hero.” Check. “Deserted.” Check. “No longer a Cavalier.” Check.
“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.”
Indeed. Even the Commish called the not-so-special broadcast “ill-conceived, badly produced and poorly executed.”
“Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.” Understatement of the young century.
“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.” No problem here except for the double negative (for which I wouldn’t have fined Dandy Dan more than, say, $10,000).
“You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.” “Cowardly” – like walking out on his team without so much as a heads-up phone call or a text message, for which Commish also scolded LeBron? “Betrayal”— like turning your back on the team that upgraded its arena, built a $25-million practice facility near James’ home and spent like a drunken sailor to buy a championship in a small market while the Heat were tanking to clear salary-cap space?
“You have given so much and deserve so much more.” I’ll say.
“In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight: ‘I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.’ You can take it to the bank …. 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.” “Shameful display” is another entry for the understatement category. Otherwise, Mr. Stern actually gave an approving nod to this affirmation to long-suffering Ohio fans.
“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.” Word.
“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.” From your lips to God’s ears, Danny. And Mr. Commissioner, worst trash talk takes place on your courts every night before warm-ups are through.
“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.” I feel better already.
My conclusion: as kids say in pickup games, “no blood, no foul.” Still, mayhap the Commish was actually objecting to the Cavs owner’s assertion to the Associated Press that LeBron “quit” during the playoffs against Boston. If so, maybe Mr. Stern should take up Danny Boy’s invitation to review the video of game 5 of the series, or the end of game 6, when LeBron and his mates stood around for the last minute of a still winnable closeout contest while time ticked away.
Meanwhile, if the NBA boss man is so intent on doling out fines for front-office statements, he maybe oughta consider Heat executive Alonzo Mourning’s claim that he “knew this was going to evolve a while ago. We knew a long time ago.” Really? Just how long ago? Before, say, July 1, when the Heat was first free to negotiate with LeBron and Bosh?
I wanted to suggest that every Cleveland fan send a dollar bill to the new King of Cleveland Hearts to make him whole for giving us a voice. But Gilbert has already requested that fans support the Cavaliers Youth Fund (www.cavs.com/donate) instead.
Then, let’s each ship another George Washington to Commish Stern – to help finance an investigation of Mr. Mourning, Pat “Five Rings” Riley and the whole fishy mess that landed the Three Amigos on South Beach.
Bob Maistros was the chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, a former Senate subcommittee counsel and a longtime public relations advisor for companies ranging from AOL to MTV to XM Satellite Radio. He now offers biting satire based on insights gathered at the front lines of headline-making corporate crises, political contests and the culture wars.