For months NBA fans had been speculating and waiting to see where the most famous NBA free agent would play next season. Lebron James was wooed by New York, New Jersey, Chicago, The Los Angeles Clippers, Miami and of course his then present team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James, 25, the National Basketball Association’s reigning two-time Most Valuable Player, played his first seven years in the NBA with the Cavaliers, helping the team to five playoffs and the best regular-season record in 2009-10
LeBron entertained the hometown pitch which lasted more than an hour from Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant. Grant was accompanied by new coach Byron Scott, owner Dan Gilbert and assistant general manager Lance Blanks.
According to the Associated Press , the Cavaliers was in a position to offer $30 million more than the other contending teams on a maximum-length contract.
“We’ve done some amazing things the last five years,” Grant said after the meeting. “We won a lot of games and went deep into the playoffs, but we’re not satisfied with anything we’re doing. We intend to make improvements and upgrade our roster.”
Last Thursday night on ESPN, James revealed that he would be moving south joining the Miami Heat.
James’ revelation created joy and celebration in Miami and disappointment elsewhere. There was however degrees of disappointment. In Cleveland, the revelation led to James’ Jersey being burned. The Jersey also dropped in price.
The Cleveland disappointment did not stop there. Cleveland Cavalier majority owner, Dan Gilbert posted the following letter to deliver a title before James wins one:
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:
“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.
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.
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….
Gilbert later told The Associated Press he believes James quit during a handful of Cavaliers playoff games. “He has gotten a free pass,” Gilbert told the AP in a phone interview late Thursday night. “People have covered up for [James] for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is.”
NBA commissioner David Stern has fined Dan Gilbert $100,000.00 for the critical comments. Whether this fine is enough is important, but the label of cowardly is more important and the focus of this Blog.
Cowardly? It exist in abundance in this soap opera, but LeBron James is not the culprit.
I think it is safe to say that had James announced that he would remain with Cleveland, the ESPN announcement which benefited the Boys and Girls Club would not have been characterized as narcissistic and self-promotional. Mr. Gilbert might have penned a letter, but you can bet the farm it would not have resembled the one appearing above.
Gilbert’s unfortunate comments which contradicted his General Manager also drew fire from the Reverend Jesse Jackson. In addressing the comments, Jackson (who has had his own issues with outragious statements being made on open microphones at the Fox News Channel) stated that Dan Gilbert sees LeBron James as a “runaway slave” and that the owner’s comments after the free-agent forward decided to join the Miami Heat put the player in danger.
Stating that Gilbert’s comments were “mean, arrogant and presumptuous,” Jackson went on to say that “he (Gilbert) speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” the Reverend said in a release from his Chicago-based civil rights group, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship — between business partners — and LeBron honored his contract.”
In essence, Gilbert had a desire to exercise dominion and control or ownership over James, which might be perceived as a form of slavery. Although James was being paid extremely well, Gilbert’s letter gives a perception that he owned James.
Apparently there exist some 1,400 former Quicken Loan mortgage loan officers who agree with Reverend Jackson’s assessment of Mr. Gilbert possessing a slave mentality.
The Livonia, Michigan-based Quicken faces four lawsuits on behalf of some 1,400 former mortgage loan officers alleging the company misclassified them as exempt employees to avoid overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Quicken Loans, originally Rock Financial Corporation, was founded in 1985 by Dan Gilbert along with his younger brother, film producer Gary Gilbert, their childhood friend Lindsay Gross, and Ron Berman. Rock Financial soon became one of the largest independent mortgage companies in the country. In May 1998, Gilbert took Rock Financial public, launching a successful IPO underwritten by Bear Stearns and Prudential Securities.
In December 1999, Intuit Inc. (makers of QuickBooks, TurboTax, and Quicken) purchased Rock Financial for a sum of $532M. The company was renamed Quicken Loans. In June 2002, Gilbert led a small group of private investors in purchasing the Quicken Loans subsidiary back from Intuit for just $64M.
Employees in the lawsuits allege they were instructed to work more than 55 hours a week without overtime, sometimes putting in 70- to 80-hour weeks while supervisors monitored them from an elevated platform in the same room or by listening in on sales calls to ensure they followed protocol. One could picture this as the overseer standing over the slaves who in this case are not being paid for any work in access of 55 hours.
The litigation has stalled in murky waters as a result of two opposing advisory opinions from the U.S. Department of Labor. The first advisory opinion issued in 2006 favored Quicken’s argument that the former employees are exempt administrative employees, and as as such are not entitled to over time pay. The second advisory opinion issued recently found that mortgage loan officers primarily serves in a sales capacity and do not qualify as exempt administrative employees.
While the Federal Judge presiding over the case cites the change in administration (From Bush to Obama) as a possible reason for the change in the opinion, the plaintiffs attorney contends something that may be a little more plausible and worth exploring through an evidentiary hearing.
Quicken co-counsel Robert Davis, a partner at Mayer Brown who works from New York and Washington is also an attorney for the Washington-based Mortgage Bankers Association. Davis allegedly obtained the original 2006 Labor Department advisory opinion in response to a query from said association. Attorneys for the employees strongly contends that Davis actually used that role to obtain a ruling that has the propensity to undercut the over worked former Quicken employees.
The 2006 Department of Labor advisory letter was issued with caveats that the opinions were based solely on the facts presented and also that Davis had represented that the opinion was not sought by a party in pending litigation. Instead of pointing the finger to a change in administration, the facts proffered by Mr. Davis in obtaining that advisory opinion might need to be explored in a hearing before the court under oath.
Plaintiffs attorney Nichols Kaster, later notified the department that Davis was involved in the Quicken case and asked it to review the circumstances behind the 2006 advisory,letter. The Labor Department officials then withdrew that finding and issued the new one.
The case is headed for mediation at the end of this month in Detroit, Gilbert’s home court.
Speaking of home court, the Cavaliers play their home games in a building called Quicken Loans Arena. I say building because Dan Gilbert, owner of Quicken Loans and the Cavaliers, doesn’t own Quicken Arena.
The Q, as it is known, is owned by the Gateway Economic Development Corp., a non-profit organization set up to operate the arena on behalf of the taxpaying citizens of Cleveland and Cuyahoga county Ohio.
Most of the cost of the sports facility has been borne by the taxpayers of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. However, because of a sweetheart lease, the owners of the team have full use of the arena, even when the Cavaliers are not playing. Therefore, every other event and its profits goes to Dan Gilbert and his partners and not the taxpayers.
So since the Q draws some two million customers at some 200 events, a lot of money that should go to the taxpaying owners goes to the sports franchise owner which includes brother Gary, and of course the singer Usher. One might wonder if LeBron’s previous signing helped Gilbert obtain that sweet heart deal.
In the final analysis, Gilbert had seven years to build a championship team around LeBron James. He had seven years to make improvements and upgrade the roster. Bringing in Shaq at the twilight of his fantastic career doesn’t count. That move equates to classifying employees who qualify for overtime as being exempt from overtime pay to justify not paying the overtime.
In the seven years, James lifted the Cavaliers up on his shoulders and as Grant said, accomplished some amazing things like winning a lot of games and emerging deep into the playoffs. In those same seven years, Mr. Gilbert enriched himself at the expense of the Cleveland taxpayers.
Yes, Mr. Gilbert, Cleveland taxpayers have given so much and deserve so much more than the cowardly betrayal of their representatives who gave a sweet heart deal to a rich bratty majority TEAM owner.
It’s the same ole schickardy, just a different butt hole named Dan Gilbert.
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