A day after LeBron James announced he would take his talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat, the Cavs‘ owner Dan Gilbert posted a letter on the team’s website bashing the Akron native, describing his departure as a “shameful display of selfishness.”
I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.Dan GIlbert
As it turns out, Gilbert did everything he could to keep that promise. Baron Davis, who was traded to the Cavs during the 10/11 NBA season, revealed that the team’s owner would not allow him out of his contract that offseason because he didn’t want a 31-year-old point guard helping LeBron win his first NBA championship.
I remember Dan Gilbert sent a message to me he wouldn’t let me out my deal if I went to play with LEBRON!!! Facts. He knew that where I was going so they played hardball… he said if I went to play with LEBRON he would win a title. I told him LEBRON gonna win one anyway. 🤦🏾♂️— Baron Davis (@BaronDavis) March 9, 2021
The Heat were coming off their six-game Finals loss against the Dallas Mavericks, and Gilbert was gloating over LeBron’s meltdown. Meanwhile, Davis finished the season averaging 13.1 points and 6.7 assists and was seen as a potentially solid veteran contributor for a contender.
Mike Bibby, Carlos Arroyo, and Mario Chalmers shared minutes at the point guard position for the Heat, and Davis was seen as an upgrade over all three of them. But Gilbert wasn’t going to let it happen. B-Diddy wound up signing with the New York Knicks after receiving the amnesty clause from the Cavs. He played 29 games as a Knick before suffering a career-ending knee injury.
Instead of Davis, the Heat drafted Norris Cole, another Ohio native, bolstering their point guard depth with a 23-year-old rookie. They also signed Shane Battier, Ronny Turiaf, and Eddie Curry, improving the supporting cast around the Big Three. And it paid dividends.
The Heat went to three straight Finals, winning back-to-back titles in ’12 and ’13. In the meantime, the Cavaliers missed the postseason four consecutive times. So despite Gilbert’s efforts, keeping players from joining LeBron in Miami, ‘THE SELF TITLED FORMER KING’ was the first one with the ring.