- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) - The new face of the Cavaliers is 14 years old, wears a bow tie and has battled disease since birth.

Nick Gilbert looks nothing like LeBron James, but on Tuesday night he brought back all the hope that left Cleveland right along with its franchise player last summer.

The Cavaliers got a huge jump on their post-LeBron rebuilding process, winning the lottery and the No. 1 selection in next month’s NBA draft.

“Shocking events took place last summer and it was a slow, long, painful haul to get through it. Maybe this will be the final straw in getting over the hump, getting to the other side, and having a lot of hope for the future,” Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said. “That’s what we need.”


Gilbert sent his son and “hero”, 14-year-old Nick Gilbert, to the stage and the kid came up with a stunning victory, as the Cavs turned a pick from the Los Angeles Clippers that had only a 2.8 percent chance of victory into the top spot.

Nick Gilbert was born with Neurofibromatosis (NF), a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere in the body at any time. He was wearing black-rimmed glasses and a bow tie and looked serious until he showed a keen sense of humor in a television interview. His father called him his “hero” for the way he has fought the disease.

“It’s sort of Nick fashion. He has been doing it his whole life to some degree. I’m proud of him. I’m proud of the way he carried himself and I am very excited for the fans of Cleveland, Ohio who have been through a very, very rough year,” Dan Gilbert said. “They deserve it more than anybody and they have some good hope now.”

The Cavs will select first for the first time since 2003, when they drafted James out of high school.

He left for Miami last summer and the Cavs tumbled to the second-worst record in the league, but they will have two top-four picks next month as they try to back owner Dan Gilbert’s boast that they would win a title before James. They already had their own pick and acquired another at the trade deadline from the Clippers in the deal for Baron Davis.

Minnesota will select second and Utah turned New Jersey’s pick from the Deron Williams trade into the No. 3 selection.

The Timberwolves continued their unbelievable lottery losing streak, falling to 0 for 14 and dropping for the eighth time. They had a 25 percent chance of winning after finishing with a league-worst 17-65 record.

Instead the luck went to the Cavs, who are used to playing deep in the playoffs and hope they won’t have to worry about this trip again.

Besides Nick Gilbert, the Cavs also brought along current Cleveland Browns Josh Cribbs and Joe Haden, dressed in the Cavs’ wine and gold jerseys, and former Browns star Bernie Kosar for good luck.

They will likely decide between point guard Kyrie Irving of Duke or Arizona forward Derrick Williams as the top pick.

“I don’t think you can make comparisons to me and LeBron,” said Irving, who attended the lottery. “One, I’m not 6-8. Two, I’m not a high flyer and three, my name isn’t LeBron James. Honestly, you can’t make those comparisons yet. I think I would bring a different feel to the Cleveland organization if they do decide to take me.”

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