Gilbert has no regrets about James’ comments

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CLEVELAND (AP) - Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert isn’t taking back one word about LeBron James _ or as he called him, “the player that left.”

Gilbert, who harshly criticized James after the two-time MVP announced he was leaving as a free agent this summer, said Wednesday night before Cleveland’s season opener that he doesn’t regret calling out the superstar, now with the Miami Heat.

Shortly after James announced he was leaving, Gilbert fired off an angry letter to Cleveland’s fans vilifying James. He called him “narcissistic” and accused him of “cowardly behavior.”

“I don’t regret it,” said Gilbert, who made similar comments earlier in the day on WKNR radio. “That letter was to the fans and the supporters of the Cavaliers and it wasn’t to the player that left, it wasn’t to the rest of the world. It wasn’t to anybody but them. I wanted them to understand not only how I felt but how everyone felt in the entire organization.”

Not long after posting the infamous letter on the Cavs’ team website, Gilbert told The Associated Press that he felt James quit during last season’s playoffs against Boston.

Gilbert _ whose comments drew a $100,000 fine from Commissioner David Stern _ didn’t take back those remarks, either.

“There are some of the things everybody has to make their own personal judgment on,” Gilbert said. “It’s a subjective judgment when you watch a game or watch a tape. You make those kinds of judgments. I’d rather not answer directly. I’d really rather not comment what my feelings are any more, but everybody has to make their own decisions on that.”

Gilbert has taken a low profile since July, when James left the Cavs after seven seasons. James‘ decision caught Gilbert by surprise because in the days leading up to his announcement, the 25-year-old maintained re-signing with Cleveland was still a possibility.

Gilbert felt betrayed by James and was upset that the All-Star forward did not communicate his intentions to the team until an hour-long TV special to announce his decision was already on the air.

In his letter to Cleveland fans, Gilbert not only ripped James but he guaranteed his team would win a championship before his former player.

He still believes that’s possible.

“You never know,” he said. “Look, these things will play themselves out and we’ll see what happens. It was certainly something that put more emphasis on the future and put more pressure on everyone here to say, ‘Hey, let’s deliver as smart and efficiently as we possibly can.’ We’ll see what happens.”

In the days after James‘ departure, Gilbert was accused of coddling and enabling the star. Critics said the preferential treatment given to James and his inner circle of friends empowered them into thinking they could get away with anything.

Gilbert said there are many misconceptions about what went on.

“There’s a lot of nonsense that LeBron was asking for all these things and doing all these things and having all these privileges,” said Gilbert, who acknowledged watching James‘ debut with the Heat on Tuesday night. “It’s simply not true. None of that stuff happened, none of his friends flew on the plane. It’s simply not true.

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