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I'm sure plenty of people are turning to DKos tonight to avoid the LeBron James story, but I just had to share this with some progressives because it really shows what the titans of industry who run our sports leagues think of of their star athletes who get uppity and take better deals from someone else.  

Dan Gilbert is the CEO of Quicken Loans and the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Within an hour of LeBron's decision (poorly handled and stage-handled like an amateur by ESPN and Nike) to leave Cleveland for Miami (think about the banality of that decision for an employee who only works from October to June), Mr. Gilbert posted an unbelievably pompous hissy-fit on the Cavaliers web site.  

The text of his statement can be read here:

My snarky analysis can be read after the jump.

Let me first concede that LeBron was, to borrow one word from Mr. Gilbert's diatribe, "narcissistic" in how he handled this whole affair.  Never before did an athlete glob the spot light over such a decision before.  And by the time the show started, even LeBron was uncomfortable with it.  You could see it on his face.  But in the end, he made a rational business decision to take his talents elsewhere.   Indeed, he made the somewhat selfless (or at least sophisticated) decision to accept less money in order to pursue a better professional environment in Miami.  

But here is how CEO of a fortune 500 company reacted to this decision.  (Everything in block quotes are from Mr. Gilbert.)

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.

Deserted?  I wonder if he thinks all the factories that closed to move to  Mexico deserted Cleveland too? Maybe he does...but I bet he'd still float those owners a loan for the gas money.

And why is "decision" in quotation marks?  Is LeBron not capable of making a real "decision" like an adult.  Is this like Lawrence Taylor claiming that the 15 year old girl "consented" to have sex with him?  It's subtle but me thinks Mr. Gilbert doesn't exactly consider Mr. James his peer.

"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." .

If I was Bill Gates, I would call this asshole up and offer him one billion dollars for his beloved Cavaliers.  Think he would betray Northeast Ohio for a tidy $900 million profit?  Hell, he would let me change Quicken Loans arena to "NAMBLA House of Hoop Dreams and Al Qaeda Training Facility" for a billion dollars.  (And he already has a billion dollars!  The 2nd billion is much less enjoyable than the first. Or so I'm told.)

Now that he's done shitting on the Uppity Forward, he kisses up to his base:

You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

I'll admit, Cleveland has some loyal fans.  I felt awful when they lost the Browns.  But I'm not exactly sure why those fans "deserve" LeBron James anymore than the fans of Miami do.

By the way, these fans WILL desert you this year-as they should- by buying fewer tickets for the inferior product that you will now have to offer. And in a few years, if that product gets better, they will return.  If you haven't moved the team to San Diego by then.

So now that he's responded to rejection with bitterness, and offered platitudes to his constituents, Mr. Gilbert puts on his big-boy pants and delivers the only thing in his arsenal: big, empty, meaningless promises:

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

Really, Mr. Quicken Loans?  What specific bank can I take this promise to?  What kind of interest are you paying on it?  I'd like to buy some Heat tickets with this imaginary money you're giving away.

Did you ever notice that capitalists never support free-markets when they advantage labor?  Funny, I know.

Originally posted to Spider Stumbled on Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 09:42 PM PDT.

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