If Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was ever going to retain the services of LeBron James, a two-way apology was in order.
When James left Cleveland to join the Miami Heat in 2010, both he and Gilbert had made bad mistakes. James’s “The Decision” broadcast was done in poor taste, while Gilbert’s scathing letter to Cavs fans ripping James afterwards simply crossed the line.
Talking to USA Today, Gilbert described the beef-squashing conversation that had to take place between he and LeBron last Sunday to enable King James to announce his return to the Cavs this past Friday.
"I had told LeBron's guys, whether he comes back or not, I really want to clear the air. It shouldn't be like this," Gilbert said leading into his long-awaited sit-down conversation with James. "First thing I said to him was, 'LeBron, you know this is true. We had five good years and one bad night. Like a marriage that's good and then one bad thing happens and you never talk to each other again. I'm just glad we're here, whether you come or not, LeBron. This has been hanging over my head.'”
Gilbert says James expressed the same sentiments, offering regrets for “The Decision” broadcast, which the All-Star forward said he didn’t think through. Then, it was Gilbert’s turn to apologize about the letter.
"I apologized and we talked and it took maybe 15 or 20 minutes,” Gilbert said. “That's it. Then I said, 'Is that enough about the past?' And we started talking about the future."
The meeting ended with a handshake, as Gilbert jokingly told USA Today, "It's hard to hug a guy a foot taller than you."
"It makes a lot of sense for who he is and his life story," Gilbert said, before adding that he hopes Cleveland as a whole forgives and embraces King James. "If we're not mad at each other, why are they?"
James, 29, officially signed a two-year, $42.1 million deal with Cleveland over the weekend. Now, he and Gilbert can work together to bring the championship-depraved city its first sports title in 50 years.
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(Photos from left: AP Photo/Tony Dejak, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)