Gilbert’s apology helped cement LeBron’s return
By ZACK MEISEL
Northeast Ohio Mecdia Group
Four years later, they officially mended fences. They soothed the years of tension and unease, all fueled by one Microsoft Word document filled with emotionally charged, Comic Sans-scripted words.
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert met with LeBron James in Miami on Sunday night, according to a report from Yahoo Sports. Gilbert flew on his private jet to meet with the man he scorned — immediately after that man deserted his franchise on national TV — in that infamous letter.
Gilbert sat with James and his close confidants as the NBA’s top player and his former (and now current) boss hashed out their differences, reflected on their past misdeeds, reconciled and explored the possibility of a reunion.
“It was more comfortable that I actually thought it would be,” Gilbert told Yahoo Sports. “They made it easy for me.”
According to the report, Gilbert first apologized for the letter, which referenced James as “our former hero,” who participated in “narcissistic, self-promotional build-up” before his “cowardly betrayal” of the Cavaliers organization.
“I told him how sorry I was, expressed regret for how that night went and how I let all the emotion and passion for the situation carry me away,” Gilbert told Yahoo Sports. “I told him I wish I had never done it, that I wish I could take it back.”
James replied to Gilbert’s remorse by saying “he wished he had never done ‘The Decision’ on cable television and that they had made mistakes together. that they could move past it,” according to Yahoo Sports.
On Friday morning, James’ agent, Rich Paul, called Gilbert to inform him of the free-agent’s latest decision: that he was returning to Cleveland.
Four years later, that letter, penned during the emotional aftermath of a monumental moment, was vanquished.
Gilbert told Yahoo Sports: “I told LeBron, ‘That letter didn’t hurt anybody more than it hurt me.’
“For the first two months, I kept thousands of letters — not hundreds — thousands written to me. There were 90-year-old ladies and CEOs, and I realized that that letter had transcended the event, went far beyond LeBron. After a few months, I would re-read it and just be full of regret. That wasn’t me, that wasn’t who I am. I didn’t mean most of the things I said in there. The venom it produced, from all sides ... I wish ... I wish I had never done it.
“I’m grateful that we all get another chance together now.”