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#pounditWednesday, August 4, 2021

LeBron James felt Dan Gilbert’s infamous letter had racial undertones

LeBron James

The scathing letter Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert sent to Cleveland fans ripping LeBron James in 2010 was childish and ill-advised, but we haven’t really heard anything about it being racist in nature — that is until now.

James covered a wide range of topics in a GQ feature that was released on Tuesday, including the infamous letter Gilbert wrote after LeBron left the Cavs to sign with the Miami Heat seven years ago. LeBron was asked if he felt the letter had racial undertones, and his response may surprise you.

“Um, I did. I did. It was another conversation I had to have with my kids. It was unfortunate, because I believed in my heart that I had gave that city and that owner, at that point in time, everything that I had. Unfortunately, I felt like, at that point in time, as an organization, we could not bring in enough talent to help us get to what my vision was. A lot of people say they want to win, but they really don’t know how hard it takes, or a lot of people don’t have the vision. So, you know, I don’t really like to go back on that letter, but it pops in my head a few times here, a few times there. I mean, it’s just human nature. I think that had a lot to do with race at that time, too, and that was another opportunity for me to kind of just sit back and say, ‘Okay, well, how can we get better? How can we get better? How can I get better?’ And if it happens again, then you’re able to have an even more positive outlook on it. It wasn’t the notion of I wanted to do it my way. It was the notion of I’m gonna play this game, and I’m gonna prepare myself so damn hard that when I decide to do something off the court, I want to be able to do it because I’ve paid my dues.”

In the letter, Gilbert unloaded on James for the “narcissistic, self-promotional build-up” that became known as “The Decision.” LeBron himself has even said that he regretted the way his free agency decision was announced in 2010. Gilbert also told fans they don’t deserve the type of “cowardly betrayal” James had burdened them with.

There’s no denying that the letter was immature. Gilbert sounded like a scorned ex who had just been dumped by his longtime partner, and he even went so far as to guarantee the Cavs would win a championship before LeBron did. We all saw how that turned out.

Gilbert has since apologized to LeBron for the letter, but it obviously still bothers the 32-year-old superstar. That said, it’s somewhat surprising to hear James say he felt there were racial undertones in the things Gilbert said. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we hear reports like this about LeBron’s future.


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