No trashing of LeBron this time in Cleveland

By: AP July 02,2018 - 10:17 PM

LeBron James AP Photo

THE ‘KING’ OFF TO LA

CLEVELAND — Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert didn’t trash LeBron James on his way out of town this time.

Instead, he promised to retire his jersey.

Eight years after he famously criticized James for leaving as a free agent in a letter, Gilbert thanked the superstar for coming back to Cleveland and ending the city’s half-century championship drought.

James announced on Sunday night that he’s agreed to join the Los Angeles Lakers, a decision that dredged up bad memories for some Cavs fans.

Although James is leaving Cleveland again, Gilbert used the occasion to wish James well, opening his statement by recalling the night in 2016 when James led the Cavs to a Game 7 win in the NBA Finals over Golden State. That victory gave Cleveland its first professional sports title since 1964.

“A championship that united generations of Clevelanders, both living and passed,” Gilbert said.

“Virtually anyone with roots in Northeast Ohio paused and felt the memories of the past and the utter joy that the burden of the so-called `curse’ was finally a thing of the past. Cleveland, Ohio was the home of a championship team for the first time since 1964. Words do not express the meaning and the feeling this accomplishment brought to the people of Northeast Ohio.”

Gilbert, whose relationship with James improved after the Cavs’ title but was always a source of speculation, went on to credit the four-time MVP for delivering on his promise to make Cleveland a championship city.

“None of this would have happened if LeBron James did not agree to come back home and lead the Cavaliers to the promised land,” Gilbert said.

“The entire Cavaliers franchise thanks LeBron for that precious moment and for all of the excitement he delivered as he led our team to four straight NBA Finals appearances.

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