CLEVELAND, Ohio — This is how you do a farewell.
No prime time special. No bitter letter to fans.
James’ agent released a short statement less than 24 hours after free agency began stating that James had accepted a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Early Monday morning, the Cleveland Cavaliers released a statement from Gilbert where he had nothing but positive things to say about James and his time with the team.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) July 2, 2018
The statement read:
“We will always remember the evening of June 19, 2016 as the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, ended the 52-year drought delivering the long elusive championship that many thought they would never see… A championship that united generations of Clevelanders, both living and passed.
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.
None of this would have happened if LeBron James did not agree to come back home and lead the Cavaliers to the promised land. 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.
LeBron is a family man, first. We wish his kids, his wife Savannah, his mother Gloria, and LeBron himself nothing but the best in the years and decades ahead. LeBron’s connection to Akron, Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio will most certainly endure as his commitment to the region and his support of many important causes has been impactful to so many kids and families.
LeBron, you came home and delivered the ultimate goal. Nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform. We look forward to the retirement of the famous #23 Cavs jersey one day down the line…”
Gilbert said he had “nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform.”
It was a far cry from the letter he wrote to fans back in 2010 after James announced he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”
Then, Gilbert attacked James for a “shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own.”
He also called him “our former hero” and the “self-declared former King.”
Of course, the letter came after James went on national TV to make the announcement that he was leaving. The way he made the announcement upset many Cavaliers fans. Most forgave him for the move when he announced in 2014 that he was returning to the Cavs and went on to lead the team to a National Championship.