Cavs owner: LeBron's signing 'cowardly betrayal'


, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert delivered a fiery open letter to fans, ripping LeBron James' decision to join the Miami Heat as "selfish" and a "cowardly betrayal."

Gilbert also offered a bold statement saying the Cavs would win an NBA title before James.

In a television special on ESPN devoted to James Thursday night, the reigning two-time league MVP disclosed his free agency decision to join stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to play in Miami this fall instead of remaining with the Cavaliers.

The antics by James ticked off Gilbert, so much to the point that he wrote a scathing letter directed at James.

"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," Gilbert wrote. "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."

"You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal," Gilbert said in the letter to the fans. "You have given so much and deserve so much more. In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


"If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our 'motivation' to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels."

Gilbert didn't stop there, continuing to rant about James, an Akron native who was Cleveland's No. 1 overall draft pick in 2003 and spent his entire seven- year career in a Cavaliers uniform, building the team into a Eastern Conference powerhouse.

"This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown 'chosen one' sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And 'who' we would want them to grow-up to become," Gilbert said. "But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called 'curse' on Cleveland, Ohio."

Fans in Lakewood, Ohio were so enraged at James' decision, they burned jerseys and t-shirts of their former idol.

It's a tough road ahead for the Cavaliers in a city that hasn't won a major sports championship since 1964, when the Browns captured the NFL crown. It's the longest drought for any city with at least three majors sports franchises. The Cavs made it to the 2007 NBA Finals before being swept by San Antonio.

"The self-declared former 'King' will be taking the 'curse' with him down south," Gilbert said in the letter. And until he does 'right' by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

"Just watch.

"Sleep well, Cleveland.

"Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day....

"I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

"DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue....

Gilbert's name is then signed at the bottom of the letter.