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Cleveland Owner Gilbert Calls LeBron James Coward and Disloyal

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by hearit

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In The News

In a “sticks and stones” scenario, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Dan Gilbert claims the Cavs will win a title before the Heat’s LeBron James’–calling James a coward and claiming LeBron “got a free pass”.

Angered and betrayed by LeBron James’ decision to leave for Miami, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert accused the NBA's MVP of quitting during the playoffs.

Gilbert, who posted a letter to Cavs fans on the team's Web site shortly after James announced his plans to sign with the NBA’s team the Miami Heat, told the AP that it's "accountability time" for James.

"He [LeBron James] has gotten a free pass," Cavaliers owner Gilbert. "People have covered up for [LeBron James] for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is."

Gilbert says LeBron James quit on the Cavs during their second-round series against the Boston Celtics, who rallied from a 2-1 deficit to eliminate Cleveland.

"He quit," Gilbert said. "Not just in Game 5 [of the NBA Playoffs], but in Games 2, 4 and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston [Celtics] series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."

The Cleveland Cavaliers were beaten by 32 points in Game 5 of the NBA Playoffs. In that playoff game, James appears uninterested—and seems to be glaring at Cleveland's coaches while the Cavs team attempts to foul in order to get back into the game. LeBron James also made interesting postgame comments, including a reference that he had "spoiled" people with his basketball play over seven seasons.

Gilbert also said he believes James quit on the Cavs in Game 6 of their series in 2009 against Orlando.

"Go back and look at the tape," he said. "How many shots did he take?"

Gilbert, who has owned the Cavs for five years of James’ seven seasons, said he was most disappointed by James' behavior in the months leading up to the superstar's announcement that he was leaving for Miami—James will be joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Cavaliers owner Gilbert whined that LeBron James never returned a single phone or text message since the end of the NBA season--and that the Cavs were not informed of James' decision before his decision was aired to the media and news.

The Cavs didn’t know? Really? Hmmm…wouldn’t that lack of returned phone calls in itself serve as the indicator.

Cleveland Cavs owner Gilbert says that Rich Paul, one of James' business partners, called the Cavs only moments before media announcement of the move to Miami.

Gilbert’s reaction is on par with that of a slighted grade-schooler:

"LeBron James needs to go to another team with two superstars [Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh] already so he can win a [NBA] championship," Cavs owner Gilbert was quoted as saying. "We [Cleveland Cavaliers] will win a championship before [Miami Heat] do."

"It's not about him [LeBron James] leaving," Gilbert said. "It's the disrespect. It's time for people to hold these athletes accountable for their actions. Is this the way you raise your children? I've been holding this all in for a long time."

Apparently so—perhaps someone can refer Ron Artest’s psychiatrist he reveres.

In Miami, Wade said he was stunned by the Cleveland owner’s comments.

"I think I'm happy that I have the owner that I have here in Miami," Heat’s Dwayne Wade told AP. "I'm happy Micky Arison is my owner. "I couldn't believe it [Cleveland owner Gilbert’s comments about James]. I'm speechless. It's very unfortunate and I think it makes LeBron that much better about his decision [to move to the Heat].”

While Miami celebrates, the hatred for James spreads in Cleveland—while the city of Cleveland realizes that its team’s shot at a title has gone down the toilet.

LeBron James is no longer welcome: By 10 a.m. the morning following James’ announcement, every No. 23 jersey bearing James' name inside the Cavaliers' temporary gift shop at the arena had been boxed and carted out—any banner with the MVP's face gone, and every figurine, T-shirt, coffee mug and pennant associated with the NBA superstar was torn out.

In team offices, employees tossed mementos of James into the trash

In a matter of hours, James went from the most-adored athlete in Cleveland history to its most hated—in just a matter of hours.

The moment he announced on Thursday's nationally televised special that he was leaving to join Olympic teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Cleveland turned on him. Not everyone. Just about everyone. His most loyal fans couldn't understand why he would embarrass Ohio with the world watching.

Cleveland, whose economic woes had been softened by James' arrival and superstar ascension, never saw it coming.

Sure, there were reports he was leaning toward Miami but until James uttered: "I'm taking my talents to South Beach," no one here thought it was possible he had played his last game in a wine-and-gold uniform.

"It seems everybody has a bad taste in their mouth, unless you're in Miami," Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Just the way the whole thing was handled, on TV and everything." News stations had set aside a one-hour time slot for the LeBron James move.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson attempted to put a positive spin on a depressing situation for the city."I know there's a lot of anger in the [Cleveland] city, but I know Mr. LeBron James and I do not consider this personally," the mayor said in a news conference at City Hall. "It was not personal against the city. His decision is not going to make or break Cleveland. The city is resilient and has a lot of assets that have sustained us in the past and will do so in the future."

Missing its star player, the Cavs are no longer NBA title contenders and now must revamp a roster without its top player. Cleveland has some tradable assets, but general manager Chris Grant must decide whether to rebuild or try to maintain the club's championship-caliber status.

Cleveland’s owner, Grant, has gotten himself in a big ol’ heap—claiming the Cavaliers are going to win a championship before James with the Heat. That task will be a bit hard now that the Cavs have no star player, and the Heat’s got theirs plus two other superstars.

Right after LeBron James announced he was leaving Cleveland for Miami, Cavs owner Gilbert fired off an incendiary letter to Cavaliers fans--ripping the 25-year-old and promising to deliver a title after James failed.

Gilbert called James' decision "cowardly" and later told the AP that he believes James quit during playoff games in 2009 and 2010. Gilbert's accusations and remarks were the talk of the town—and raised questions about how the Cavs owner would have acted had the NBA superstar announced he would instead stay.

The Cavaliers’ new coach—Byron Scott—has turned around NBA teams in New Jersey and New Orleans, but now has to convince the Cavs they'll survive without James.

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