The Cleveland Cavaliers opened up the 2012 NBA season with a promising 94-84 win over the Washington Wizards Tuesday. They were led in the win by the reigning NBA Rookie of the year Kyrie Irving with 29 points while one of the few remaining pieces from the James era, Anderson Varejao, added a career high 23 rebounds and nine assists.
With the win, the Cavaliers rebuilding project appears to be heading in the right direction, though not fast enough to help their owner, Dan Gilbert, from eating some hastily written words he made a couple of years back.
When LeBron James left the Cavaliers as a free agent in 2010, it outraged Gilbert to the point where he vowed that the Cavs would win a championship before the “so-called King” did in a not so subtle letter. Two years later, it's James receiving his first ring while Cleveland is trying to fit together a team capable of making the playoffs. As expected, before Tuesdays season opener, Gilbert was asked about his guarantee.
"Looking back now, that probably was not the most brilliant thing I've ever done in my life," Gilbert said. "If you're going to predict something that doesn't happen and you're going to do it publicly, you'd for sure take it back,"
"When that happened when they won, it was the end of the end of the end of that whole thing. Now there's nothing more to talk about. In a way it was like a little bit of a relief. If they didn't win it, it would've been still another thing of who's going to win it (first)."
A reflective Gilbert said that James' departure taught him a valuable lesson, one that the Oklahoma Thunder recently demonstrated with James Harden. If you have a valuable asset that isn't willing to sign long-term, trade him and get something out of the situation instead of just letting him walk.
"The key thing, whoever you are and wherever you are, you can not wait," Gilbert said. "The big lesson was if a player is not willing to extend, no matter who they are, no matter where they are playing, no matter what kind of season you had, you can not risk going into a summer and having them leave in unrestricted free agency and get nothing back for it.
"It's not the player's fault. That's on ownership. Had we done that, the whole thing would have been crafted as I'm sure the player or whoever would have said, `Of course I would have stayed. You guys screwed up and ruined the whole franchise.' You're in a no-win situation."
The old saying goes “what goes around comes around.” So in the world of sports, maybe this means that Cleveland is on it's way to winning again with this group of young players; the answer to that, no one knows. But I think even Gilbert would guarantee one thing, he isn't going to stop trying to get an NBA Championship in Cleveland.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: Getty