It takes balls…. basketballs.

I am no basketball afficianado, but I do know a thing or two about taking an organization into and through a tough battle. Sometimes getting your supporters off a fence of self-doubt means making bold statements and even bolder predictions.

In today’s much hyped announcement by Lebron James, about his decision to excercise his free agency and move to the Miami Heat, he left behind him a City and franchise in Cleveland who felt betrayed. I am under no illusion that this is just a game, and no one should make too big deal of it, but I would argue that it is also about business. So today the majority owner of the Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, decided that he would step up and defend his brand, which is not just his team, but his City.

I LOVE this letter to his City and I really respect that he has used a significant blow to his franchise as a chance to focus himself, his organization and to hopefully bring the City on side with him. It has a VERY good chance of failing, as the challenge of winning any major sports championship is a complicated and low percentage likelyhood on a good day. BUT in so many difficult pursuits, and especially in sport where emotions can tip the scale, you have to win their hearts first.

Here is the text of the letter. Good luck to the Cavaliers; I think I will be pulling for them myself now.

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.

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

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One comment

  • Chris LaBossiere July 9, 2010   Reply →

    Now that I have read this again, I wish that I would have posted the following as a much shorter alternative post:

    Dan Gilbert owns a major league basketball team because he has the nuts to write this letter. You may or may not think this letter is well written, but rest assured he has likely used this bold approach on many occasions in the past.

    So his letter is less an indication of how he talks WHEN he becomes an NBA franchise owner BUT more an example of how he has probably lived his life to get there.

    Good on him.

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