Since the NBA lockout began on July 1, there has been a lot of finger pointing by the various sides involved in this embarrassing mess. The players blame the owners. The owners blame the players. The agents blame the owners. The owners blame the agents. The fans blame the players. The fans blame the owners. The fans blame the agents. And I blame the beer vendors, because they always expect to keep my change.
ESPN blowhard and Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard has other ideas, though. It’s not as simple as the owners and players disagreeing over 3% of the Basketball Related Income and the length of mid-level contracts. No, this lockout is all about how much Dan Gilbert hates LeBron James.
If you think the hawkish Gilbert wouldn’t try to throw away an entire season out of pure spite for James, you didn’t read his crazy-crayon letter in a rare moment of raw, rabid public honesty from an owner — a temper tantrum unlike any in the history of an American sports ownership that includes George Steinbrenner. And you didn’t notice how small he could behave by having his Fathead company price the James poster at $17.41 — the year of Benedict Arnold’s birth. And you don’t know how petty rich people can be when playing this kind of negotiating game of ego and power, emotion trampling logic just like when a divorcing wealthy couple spends $100,000 in attorney fees arguing over a thousand dollars in China.
That’s a pretty bold accusation, to imply that one guy is leading one faction of owners against another simply to spite the man who crushed a franchise’s fan base on national TV. Haha, just kidding, I’m totally buying this. Gilbert is absolutely the kind of guy who would do anything he could to get revenge on James, since he can’t live up to his promise to his team’s fans by putting together a championship team.
For instance, Gilbert, who owns Fathead, sold the James wall decals for $17.41 because James was a “traitor” and took money out of Gilbert’s pocket. Sure, Gilbert has no problem selling James’ Fatheads for $100 and capitalizing on him once again, but this lockout is personal… is what Gilbert will tell his former team employees as they ask him for spare change.