Cavaliers finally get some luck

For nearly a year, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has tried in vain

to move on from LeBron James and his infamous departure.

At last, Gilbert believes he can.

”Last night sort of put an end to any last lingering

thoughts,” Gilbert said Wednesday.

Winning the NBA’s draft lottery was all it took. Now, Gilbert,

his franchise and heartbroken Cleveland fans, can finally focus

forward. Yesterday has given way to tomorrow.

LeBron doesn’t matter quite as much anymore.

On Tuesday night, the Cavs won the No. 1 overall pick in next

month’s draft, when they’ll almost certainly use the pick on Duke

star point guard Kyrie Irving, a well-rounded player who can

accelerate Cleveland’s post-LeBron reconstruction.

With a little extra luck, the Cavs, coming off a disastrous

63-loss season, also landed the No. 4 pick – a lucky daily double

that had Gilbert still feeling overwhelmed.

”Last night was a very special night for everybody,” Gilbert

said. ”It’s been a rough year. It’s been grueling and tiresome and

painful. But having this lottery come out the way it did. With two

big blocks to rebuild, when you combine that with players coming

back and our coaching staff being around another year, the trade

exception and whatever other tricks (general manager) Chris Grant

may have up his sleeve.

”It should be good times ahead for the Cavaliers.”

The lottery could not have gone better for the Cavs or Gilbert.

He was not nearly as visible this season in the aftermath of James’

ballyhooed departure. Gilbert drew criticism outside Cleveland for

harsh comments he made about James, who led the Cavaliers to some

of their greatest successes but didn’t deliver on a promise to end

Cleveland’s title drought.

After the two-time MVP announced he was joining the Miami Heat,

Gilbert unloaded on the superstar in a scathing letter to Cavs fans

in which he said ”karma” would catch James. He also guaranteed

the Cavs would win a championship before James, who is now in the

Eastern Conference finals.

Does he still believe?

”Yes,” Gilbert said before a long pause. ”Until it doesn’t

happen, I’ll believe it. Who knows what happens, right? But I still

believe it.”

Gilbert laughed when he was asked if karma came to mind when the

Cavs won the lottery.

”To mind, but not to my mouth yet nor to my Twitter account,”

he said.

Then, Gilbert, who was joined on stage at the lottery drawing in

New Jersey by his 14-year-old son, Nick, who has battled a rare

disease his entire life, made a veiled reference to James’ panned

national hour-long TV special, ”The Decision,” the July 9 event

that changed the so much for two franchises.

”There are a couple articles I saw,” Gilbert said, ”and

somebody pointed out it that it was this spectacle on television

and it was a very positive one and one that was positive all around

for everybody and that’s a great thing that happened.”

For his part, James whose relationship with Gilbert – and

Cavaliers fans – has soured since he left, said he was happy for

the Cavs.

”I think it’s great for their team, great for the franchise,

and great for the fans,” he said following the Game 2 morning

shootaround in Chicago. ”That’s all I can really say about them. I

got more to worry about right now than the lottery.

”But you know, I think it’s a good step for them.”

It’s a huge one.

With Irving and perhaps a frontline player, the Cavs should be

able to cut significant time off their plan to return to the

postseason. Cleveland also has two second-round selections and a

$14.5 million trade exception to aid the turnaround.

Gilbert met Irving and his father at the lottery and came away

impressed.

”They’re great people,” he said. ”Both him and his father,

they’re one of these guys that you immediately know is a character

guy and a great guy.”

If nothing else, the events of last summer taught Gilbert he has

to build a team and not put everything on one star player.

”It’s not going to be a panacea,” he said. ”I don’t think one

player ever is a panacea – as we all found out. It takes a team to

make it happen and we are going to sustain this for the long term,

a great solid franchise that competes every year.”

And then there’s Nick.

Gilbert said offers have been pouring in for his son, whose

bowtie-topped outfit and quick wit charmed a national TV

audience.

On camera for the first time, Nick, who was born with

Neurofibromatosis, a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow

anywhere in the body, was asked how he was enjoying his first

lottery.

”What’s not to like?” he replied, a line taking on a life of

its own in Cleveland.

Dan Gilbert was initially nervous about his son’s

appearance.

”I was a little worried about what was going to come out of his

mouth,” he said. ”We prepped him the whole plane ride – ‘Don’t

say this.’ Me and my other son looked at each other and said, ‘Did

he really just say what I thought he said?’ But that’s him.”

Gilbert’s voice got slightly choked as he recalled the proud

moment.

”He’s been fighting against the odds all his life and he

continues to do so,” Gilbert said. ”Beating the odds last night

was great, and if anyone would pull if off, it was him.”