Are we done yet?

Take that, LeBron! Really burns, doesn’t it??

Take that, LeBron! Really burns, doesn’t it??

Dan Gilbert is generally regarded as Cleveland’s best sports owner. Sure, his competition is the cheap cheap penny pinching cheapo Dolans and a former Steelers owner who’s under investigation by the FBI, but still, Gilbert’s the best we got.

Nationally, Gilbert is somewhat of a joke. That’ll happen when you promise you’re team will beat LeBron to a championship and then embark on a 26 game losing streak. Whether it’s his comic sans letter, his involvement with the Chris Paul trade or crashing the NBA lottery party, Gilbert is no stranger to criticism.

Some of this criticism can be very much deserved. Others… notsomuch. Regardless, Gilbert rarely receives the benefit of the doubt. A recent example: when the Cavs owner took to twitter to ask fans about the Trent Richardson trade, the ensuing coverage was dripping with snark.

Gilbert’s anti-LeBron letter may have been foolish, but the comic sans screed bought the billionaire some goodwill from the fans (and some time for the Cavs’ complete rebuild). Cleveland fans ate up that letter up and Gilbert learned a valuable lesson: keep taking shots at LeBron. We laughed when all LeBron fatheads were discounted to $17.41 (Benedict Arnold’s birth year. GET IT?!) and we cheered when he told LeBron’s friends “not in our garage”. It was us against the world and Gilbert had our backs.

I’ll admit, I waffle back-and-forth on the LeBron stuff. On one hand, sports are supposed to be fun and these little sports hatreds and rivalries are part of sports fandom. I mean, Michigan sucks, amirite? But when Gilbert goes out of his way congratulate the Heat on winning a title but leaves out LeBron’s name, well, it just looks petty.

And I’d rather Cleveland’s best sports owner stopped looking so petty. 

You may not be aware, but is currently running a feature where they list the best Cavaliers for every jersey number. It’s a pretty fun click-through if you have fond memories of terrible basketball. Even now, clicking through the list brings smiles to my face. Hey, there’s Terrell Brandon! Oh, Shawn Kemp, you beautiful fat bastard! Really? Jon Bagley over Steve Kerr?1

Good, harmless offseason fun.

But when you got to number 23, the picture wasn’t of LeBron James who, despite how you feel about him, is clearly the best player (regardless of number) in Cavalier history, but of Tyrone Corbin.


Not that anyone needs to give LeBron more props or that the Cavs should pay him his due respect but this was unnecessary and childish trolling. All that does is give national media reporters more ammo when calling Dan Gilbert a petty jerk.

I’m not saying the Cavs need to lavish LeBron with accolades or retire his jersey in hopes he comes back in 2014, but simple acknowledgement shouldn’t be too difficult, no?

One day I hope that the Cavs and everyone else can just treat LeBron like any other ex-Cavalier. That the Cavs announcers won’t treat him like Voldemort and actually use his name in casual conversations. I want him to be just another guy. This will never happen, of course. LeBron sits atop the Cleveland record books and has the franchises only two MVPs. We’re never completely getting away from him. But the Cavs don’t need to constantly take small jabs at LeBron, it only makes him more ‘special’ than he already is.

While the Decision sucked, I maintain that the overall LeBron-era didn’t. I’m friends with many a Cavalier fan who came of age during the LeBron years. Those teams are why they’re Cavaliers fans (as the Price years were with me). It’s not like they jumped ship for the Heat when LeBron skipped town. They’re still around and suffering through the Alonzo Gee-era with the rest of us. But we have a whole generation of Cleveland basketball fans that wouldn’t be here if not for LeBron. Regardless of how one feels about the ending, the LeBron years happened and they were pretty good for the Cavaliers (and the rich guy who owns them).

Yes, a photo montage of player numbers on the team website is a small thing. What does it matter that the Cavs trolled LeBron and put up a picture of Tyrone Corbin? It’s just a photo gallery ferchristsakes! But that’s it’s a small issue is precisely why this cuts both ways. We’re still so mad at LeBron (even two no-1 overall picks later) that we’ll take shots at him in a photo gallery on the team website? Really? If it’s so dumb that the insult shouldn’t hurt or land a blow, then it’s small enough that it wasn’t needed in the first place2. Are we Soviet Russia trying to erase unpleasant and embarrassing history?

After a small internet uproar, the Cavs have changed out Corbin’s pic for one LeBron. Excellent  job, internet complainers! Good. The Cavs aren’t honoring LeBron by putting his pic by his number, they’re making him no more special as guys like Brevin Knight or Darnell Jackson. All Corbin’s picture did was bring negative attention the Cavalier franchise and give folks another whack at the Dan Gilbert pinata.

It was unnecessary.

The Cavs have a lot of positives right now (seriously, all of Kyrie Irving’s limbs are currently unbroken!) and I’d rather the Cavs not give folks more reasons to poke fun at the franchise. I’d prefer positive press for my favorite sports team and petty slights to the best player in the NBA isn’t helping.

The Cavs begin their preseason on October 8th against the Milwaukee Bucks.

  1. RIP Bobby Phills []
  2. this is a whole other can of worms, but I feel the same way with regard to Native American team names. That “it’s only a sports team, who cares if it’s bigoted” cuts both ways. If it’s only a sports team, who cares if the name is changed? You’ll stop watching the local baseball team if they have a new logo? []

  • laughingcavs

    What if advanced metrics say Tyrone Corbin actually WAS better than LBJ? I bet you didn’t consider that possibility writing this article. Let’s just keep all possibilities open until proven otherwise.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If that were to be true it would automatically vault to the #1 reason why I am not a stats person. Don’t get me wrong stats are important and as a fantasy maven I love them but in no way do I make tangible professional sports moves based solely on statistics themselves.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I have never been sold on Dan Gilbert and don’t think I ever will be I remember the day he was introduced to us all along with Usher who held I guess some part of the purchase. Honestly I didn’t know why Usher was even there until this past draft lottery when the Cavaliers once again looked like a circus.

  • D2012

    Freakin babies. Why do we give a damn about what the national media says about us? They will never give us a break no matter what we do so stop caring. Stop chasing respect from people who will never respect you no matter what you do. Ride for your team and for your city. Stop caring about people who will never respect you. So sick of this wimp-ish-ness. This “please like me. Why don’t you like me?” foolishness. Grow a pair

  • Steve

    Its not about hoping to get respect from the national media. Its about a select few not embarassing the entire group. We dont care what the national media says about us, but we do care that your idiocy reflects on the people who can act like adults, and not spoiled children who got their toy taken away, about Lebron

  • Steve

    I do find it interesting that the people who want the pettiness and whining to stop are “wimp-ish” and “babies”

  • D2012

    Embarrass the whole group with whom? The national media. You can spin it all you want but it still boils down to “why don’t you like us? Please like us. I need you to like us!” If the Cavs don’t want to refer to dude, they don’t have to. The media shouldn’t dictate what the Cavs should and shouldn’t do. And regardless on how you tried (admirably, I might add) to put lipstick on a self-loathing, low self esteem, Stockholm syndrome pig, it’s still a pig.

  • D2012

    It’s wimpish because you’re letting perceived opinions of outsiders dictate how a team or a fanbase should or shouldn’t behave. It is wimpish to bow at the alter of the national media, many of whom are either based in New York City (home to some of the most obnoxious fans in the world) or Los Angeles (home to the most fickle). And these are the folks you try to placate? I don’t give a damn what they think. You say you don’t care what thy think but then at the same time talk about a “small” contingent embarrassing the group in the eyes of the very same people who’s opinions you just said you don’t care about. Can’t have it both ways

  • Steve

    I’ll say that i dont like the loudest voice in Cleveland to be a dumb, petty, vindictive one. Its why I hate how Raab presents himself. But thats quite a bit different than saying i want the media to like me. If youre going to refuse to even try to understand the distinction, this conversation should be over.

    No one is dictacting what the Cavs should do, theyre just pointing out how childish they look. And if anyone is self-loathing, and has low self-esteem, its the group that says theyre going to get hated on no matter what.

  • D2012

    History says that we get hated on regardless, when its our fault and when it’s not, so nice try trying to flip it. The distinction that you’re attempting to make is hair splitting. “I don’t care if the national media doesn’t like me, but I hate how some make us look in the eyes of the national media. I don’t care what they think though.” That’s similar to politi-speak.

  • nj0

    For the life of me, I will never understand how one could believe that Gilbert is the best owner in Cleveland. All he has done was mismanage the one franchise that had the talent to actually win a championship. Oh, and he’s an oligarch jerk.

  • Backwoods

    Gilbert is a self made billionaire. I’m sure being trolled by the media keeps him awake at night. I’m sure he considers you all his peers.

  • Jason Hurley

    An oligarch jerk? How should he run his franchise, that he paid millions of dollars for? Should he allow the city of Cleveland to vote on front-office moves?

  • JW

    I don’t believe that Cavalier feature says it is displaying a photograph of the best player to wear that number. In most cases the best player is photographed but I read this more as a history of jersey numbers than a ranking of talent. Articles like this from WFNY are what keep stirring the pot. Let’s move on.