For the second time in eight years, LeBron James has left the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent.
And once again, just like he did in 2010, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has released a statement on the departure of one of the NBA’s all-time greats. Only this time, Gilbert did not use the Comic Sans typeface.
And, this time, the tone is completely different, as Gilbert thanks James for delivering “the ultimate goal” — an NBA championship.
“Nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform,” Gilbert wrote. “We look forward to the retirement of the famous #23 Cavs jersey one day down the line...”
James was drafted No. 1 overall by his hometown Cavaliers in 2003 and led the team to the NBA Finals in 2007. But after seven seasons in Cleveland, James famously took his talents to the Miami Heat, to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on an NBA super team.
Gilbert was furious. He vented in an infamous open letter to Cavaliers fans and didn’t hold anything back, using such words as "narcissistic," "cowardly," "selfishness," "disloyalty," "heartless," "callous" and "betrayal" in talking about James and his decision to leave Cleveland.
In four years with the Heat, James made four Finals appearances and won two championships. Then, in 2014, he returned to the Cavaliers and helped the team win its first-ever NBA title in 2016, the city of Cleveland’s first major sports championship since 1964.
So when James announced Sunday he was joining the Lakers as a free agent, Gilbert had nothing but gratitude and his best wishes to offer the once-again departing superstar.
“None of this would have happened if LeBron James did not agree to come back home and lead the Cavaliers to the promised land,” Gilbert wrote. “The entire Cavaliers franchise thanks LeBron for that precious moment and for all of the excitement he delivered as he led our team to four straight NBA Finals appearances.
“LeBron is a family man, first. We wish his kids, his wife Savannah, his mother Gloria, and LeBron himself nothing but the best in the years and decades ahead. LeBron’s connection to Akron, Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio will most certainly endure as his commitment to the region and his support of many important causes has been impactful to so many kids and families.”