CLEVELAND, Ohio – One season after his team won the NBA championship, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has been voted the next-to-worst owner in the league in an online poll.
In the poll by HoopsHype, a website devoted to NBA basketball, Gilbert beat only James Dolan of the New York Knicks, and Dolan might only beat Ted Stepien, were he still around.
About the poll
The poll allowed participants only to vote each owner the best or worst in the NBA. Total votes as of Tuesday morning were not as high as might be expected for a website with over 275,000 followers on Twitter.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, while Gilbert got only 174 votes as the best owner in the poll, he got 666 as the worst.
Although 666 was the birthmark on the scalp of little Damien in “The Omen,” this doesn’t mean the apocalypse is upon us.
The caveats are that the poll seems as unscientific as climate-change to people who pay no attention to the iceberg as big as Delaware adrift in Antarctica. Of course, Delaware is sort of small, but not if you’re a polar bear and downtown Wilmington is headed your way.
It hasn’t been a good off-season for Gilbert, what with effectively firing respected general manager David Griffin and the disclosure by LeBron James that his decision to return to the Cavs went against the wishes of both his mother and, surprisingly, his wife.
For James to come back, Gilbert had to swallow his considerable pride and apologize for his enraged email after James’ defection to Miami. Give him that much.
The owner has also scrimped on his GMs’ salaries. None of them got a contract extension.
The owner further made some wacky coach hirings. Talking about you, Byron Scott and Mike Brown, the second time around. And to a lesser extent you, David Blatt.
Good luck, bad luck and a bad actor
Gilbert has also simply lucked out in many ways, gaining three No. 1 NBA draft lottery picks in Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett – hey, it was an awful draft – and Andrew Wiggins, the player traded for Kevin Love.
But bad luck has visited too. Injuries to Irving and Love doomed the 2015 Finals team, and Andrew Bogut’s 58-second tenure, ended by a broken leg, damaged the past season’s team.
The full disclosure of Irving’s egomania in his off-season trade request turned him into an insufferable character who might as well be named KyMe as some columnist (blush) dubbed him.
Deliciously, Irving, projected in a recent story as the seventh-best point guard in the league, may not be all he thinks he is.
Irving made Gilbert a sympathetic figure for the first time since the immediate aftermath of The Decision and James’ defection.
That championship season
The main reason the poll is wrong, however, is the simple reality that Gilbert has lived up to his pledge to James to spend whatever it takes to be a contender.
Gilbert paid and even overpaid as his team won the first major professional sports championship in Cleveland in 52 years.
That’s the rebuttal, and it’s a strong one,
This is a city historically handicapped by under-financed or, lately, legally threatened owners.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s truck stop empire has been tainted by a federal investigation.
Gilbert has his flaws in that regard, too, specifically in a Department of Justice suit in Michigan against his company, Quicken Loans.
He also has a championship ring. I don’t know where he ranks, but 29th is not an option.