CLEVELAND — Dan Gilbert stood in front of reporters and joked, talking about his need for an old-school cough drop.
But his longing for a Sucrets wasn’t heard by everyone, with Gilbert’s microphone microphone not yet properly attached. Once the mic was finally ready, he smirked and asked if he should repeat the cough drop story.
The Cavaliers owner was all smiles, and it was clear nothing was going to ruin his day. This was, after all, the first day of the rest of the Cavs’ lives.
Article continues below ...
Gilbert addressed the media less than 24 hours after his organization secured the first and fourth picks of the NBA draft, courtesy of Tuesday’s lottery. The Cavs won it with a pick obtained in a trade with the Clippers, a trade in which Gilbert played a major role in pushing through. He wanted that draft pick — badly.
So Gilbert and Cavs general manager Chris Grant made certain it had been negotiated into the deal involving Baron Davis (for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon). Without the Clippers’ first-rounder, there would be no trade, and no taking on Davis’ contract of two years and $28 million.
And then, viola, the freakin’ thing wins the lottery — bouncing ahead of the Cavs’ own pingpong ball in the process.
All of it brought a sigh of relief to a city that has learned to expect the worst, especially when the idea is combining sports with luck.
“If anything and anybody deserves good times, it’s this city,” Gilbert said. “A lot of weight was lifted off the shoulders of everybody here.”
When Gilbert means “weight,” he’s referring to many things. He’s referring to The Decision, the Cavs’ 19-63 finish, the fear of not knowing where the team would pick in the draft or how it would move forward.
Now, the bad stuff is history. Now, the future is clear.
Now, Gilbert is as steadfast as he‘s ever been. And if there is one thing Cavs fans should know about their owner, it’s that he never wavers. He isn’t wishy-washy, and he won’t accept failure for the sake of saving money.
He wants to put a great product on the floor. He stands firmly behind the city and fans. He will always have your back.
When asked if he still believes his preseason prediction that the Cavs will win a championship before LeBron James does, Gilbert had every right to hem and haw his way through a retraction. Owners, coaches and athletes do it all the time.
But not Gilbert.
He looked his interviewer in the eye and his expression turned serious.
“Yes,” he said, pausing for effect. “Until it doesn’t (happen), I’ll believe it. Who knows what will happen? But I still believe.”
Nor did Gilbert shy away from a question about “karma,” a word tossed around by he and James during their online jabs at each other.
“(Karma) comes to mind, but not to mouth yet,” Gilbert said, drawing laughter. “Or to my Twitter account.”
Perhaps Gilbert was so willing to address the gloomy recent past because the immediate future appears downright dazzling.
Perhaps winning feels so good that nothing else matters. Perhaps nothing can bring Gilbert or the organization down right now.
After all, when it comes to the offseason movement, the Cavs really are holding almost all the cards. And the offseason is only about a month away.
But perhaps more than anything, and this isn’t likely just limited to the owner, there is finally a feeling around here that LeBron James can’t hurt the Cavs anymore. His team is his team, and this team is finally out of his shadow.
“There could be good times ahead,” Gilbert said, before specifying. “There should be good times ahead for the Cavaliers.”