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Dan Gilbert's Tirade

Although I was only mildly interested in the LeBron James saga that's unfolded over recent weeks — and certainly not inclined to write about the fate of a Cleveland Cavalier on the pages of the Detroit Blog — it was the antics of Cavs' owner and Detroit native Dan Gilbert yesterday that really caught my attention.

After LeBron announced on ESPN that he was joining the Miami Heat instead of returning to Cleveland, Gilbert, who owns locally based lending giant Quicken Loans, went off on James. He posted a scathing letter on the team's website in which he suggested James "quit" in big games and accused his former star player of "cowardly betrayal" of not just Cavs fans but all of Northeast Ohio.

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.

Be for real, Dan.

Look, I know plenty of people here are feeling Gilbert, the homegrown billionaire who recently announced that he was moving his company's headquarters from Livonia, Mich., to downtown Detroit, and that's fine. We certainly can use his investments. But his teeing off on LeBron was as corny and weak as the kid's self-absorbed traveling free-agency carnival, not to mention out of step with how local sports barons have traditionally gotten down in Detroit.

I mean, first off, there's the obvious hypocrisy to his attack: He wouldn't be saying these things about LeBron, although he seems to feel them sincerely, had James returned to play basketball for him.

Second, while I'm sure that Detroiter Gilbert loves his Ohio team and his Cleveland fans, he needs to cut the crap about James "doing right by Cleveland" (read: his rich ass). The young man made a cold-blooded business decision — something a Croesus-rich mortgage broker can surely understand, no? Gilbert going after Akron, Ohio, native James for "betrayal" is as silly as someone thinking Gilbert is somehow "disloyal" to Detroit because he doesn't want to dump Cleveland to buy his hometown Pistons. (UPDATE: Nor, as my friend Kim pointed out to me a short time ago,  is anybody in this city casting hexes on Gilbert or calling him traitorous for backing casino gambling in Ohio, which hurts Detroit's gaming industry.)  It's business (though, yes, I get why the fans would argue differently).

Of course, I also wonder how much business really does play into Gilbert's tirade. According to some reports, James' departure could cost Gilbert's team as much as $250 million in value. (Wonder if losing that kind of bread will impact what he does in the D.)  I'd be mad too if I just watched so much money fly off to South Beach, but name-calling seems inappropriate. I was expecting something a little classier from Gilbert after years of watching Detroit-bred sports tycoons handle business disappointments fairly smoothly in public.

If you don't know, Gilbert is part of a colorful crop of sports franchise owners that Detroit has produced over the years, from racing's Roger Penske to Peter Karmanos (Carolina Hurricanes) to Mike Illitch (Tigers/Red Wings), William Clay Ford (Lions) and Al  Taubman. (I still love those Michigan Panthers helmets.) They've been an interesting lot, one that includes recovering alcoholics, Kwame Kilpatrick loyalists and convicted white-collar felons, but for the most part they've had a history of carrying themselves like cool-headed businessmen when it's come to sports matters.

For instance, when Barry Sanders finally tired of the Lions' mediocrity and slipped away from the NFL forever, Ford, easily the worst owner of them all on the field, had very little to say. Yes, Detroit fans were all kinds of shocked and angry (though certainly not like Cleveland's), but Ford kept it respectful. Same for Bill Davidson and the Pistons franchise when Ben Wallace spurned us for Chicago a few years ago.

Gilbert's as good a sports team owner as many of the other local moguls, if not better. But when it comes to the type of attack he put out there in the wake of James' departure, he could stand to cop a page from the other guys' books and leave the mean-spirited childishness to the paying customers (like me...Blubber all you want, Cleveland; I'm elated to see James out of the Pistons' division). When fans get upset about a move like this, it reflects their passion. But when billionaire owners go off like Gilbert did, they just look like peevish boors who can't handle getting their way.

That's the kind of person I don't ever want my child to be.

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  • 1

    I am one of the people you apparently have never heard that called Dan Gilbert out for pushing for casinos in Ohio and saying that they (especially the one in Toledo) wouldn't hurt Detroit's casino business. I also have said that he should dump the Cavs for the Pistons.

    That being said, The ridiculous LeBron show (which I did not watch) was unnecessary. Dan Gilbert has a right to be upset about the fact that Lebron couldn't be man enough to even talk to his owner about his decision. Why did Dan Gilbert have to learn about it on television? According to Gilbert, Lebron didn't return ANY Cavalier employees' phone calls since the end of the playoffs.

    Dan Gilbert made himself look like a fool. I agree.

    Yes, Lebron made a business decision. He just did it the wrong was, in my opinion.

  • 2

    I think dan is not a fool by what he did at all. I think he showed everyone in the city of cleveland he is a great man. We can not voice out our opions so he did it for us. What lebron did should not ever be forgiven. I do not hate lebron for leaving cleveland it was a better option for him I agree. But Look at the history of cleveland sports and for lebron to do that to cleveland on national tv is the worst decsion he has ever made. And I think dan should be awarded for sticking up for cleveland when no one else would. And I have now became a huge dan gilbert fan cause he does care for our city of cleveland. And for people to say he was acting like a child who did not get his way is a slap to clevelands face because he stuck up for our city. I just wish people would understand that point and not let lebron off the hook so easly.

  • 3

    Gilbert is an idiot and hypocrite he did not give a daman about loyalty when he sought Izzo 'services..

    People in the 'mistake by the lake are also fools for thinking a sports figure owes them anything other than an honest effort..People are simple when they actually think a sports star is revelant and more important than real life issues...

    Of course one of the real underlying themes of idiots like Gilbert are projecting is that a Black man is chattel and how dare this colored boy dare to dream or have the audacity to make a decison about this life without paying homage to me a white owner..

    Lebron now of course feels better about his decision given the low life remarks by Gilbert..I hope Lebron has a press release and tells Gilber to kiss his ass..Opps! I meant kiss his BLACK ass..

  • 4

    The racist comment above by gbt2 is what one of the types of activities that killed this blog months ago, when no one at TIME had the guts to get rid of the racism being displayed. This TIME Detroit project could have been great, but instead slipped quickly into their writers either calling Republicans and others they consider non-PC names, repeating news from the Detroit Free Press, or commenting on local Art Fairs.
    It never reached any real objective depth one would hope professional journalists could still exhibit. It is no accident that there are so few comments on this blog. Too bad. Another failed Detroit endeavor.

  • 5

    Nonsense what killed this blog was the initial commentary by TIME wherein not ONE Black person was named as being important for the city's recovery...

    Please spare me the shallow pc posturing it is interesting how you did not offer up your own shortcomings in your indictment of this blog..

    I 'm not suprised empty shallow people like YOU love going around issuing these pompous indictments I imagine it is part of being an intellectual coward posting these assaults under an alias..

  • 6

    Grewupindetroit, you hit the nail on the head. Someone else long ago called out this gbt2 guy for being a local troll who spouts illiterate racism all over town. He's apparently been banned from most newspaper comment boards around here because he drags the discussion into the sewer. Not sure why the Detroit Blog lets him rant, though I do note that nobody ever responds to him.

    Seems like someone who really wants attention but doesn't have the intellectual ability to get it without saying childish, outrageous statements.

  • 7


    Thanks for confirming yet again my brand and celebrity I love fans good, bad and even ugly...I am the most published social essayist in this region past decade... My talents in the public sector where my opinions matter and warranted publication have won papers national awards for best op-ed page..

    Interesting that whenever folks are envious and jealousy and simply cannot measure up I get attacked as troll, racist, crap, scum , and called a n*gger of course ..

    My presence of this site despite its woes has also increased its volume of comments...My posts bring people to this site and when I post here I get people like you , grewup in detroit and a host of other intellecual cowards who hide behind a pc to attack me BTW also augmenting the volume of hits this site gets not to mentioned the unlimited number of lurkers who come to this site just to see if I have left any footprints with a post...

    I come here primarily becuase of the superior writing and analytical talents of Darrel and Karen..I deposit my comments here becuase folks have contacted me and requested I insert a post ...Get over me I have presence and I make a difference..Folks want to hear and read my views..Yes I am good at what I do...

    From my vanatge point as the #1 PA TV Show host in Oakland and the most published social essayist and activist in the region getting banned from a web site only confirms my iconic persona and fuels me even more.... BTW If an activist never gets banned that person is not a impactful change agent or activist !!!!!

    Always making a difference..


  • 8

    Wow. What a moron.

  • 9

    [...] since we all love to laugh at Dan Gilbert anyway, I want all my fellow Detroit Lions football fans to check out detroit.blogs.time and tell me what you think about[...]

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