The Cleveland Cavaliers made history on Sunday night, completing the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history to defeat the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 and provide the city of Cleveland with its first major sports championship in 53 years. Finals MVP LeBron James led the charge, and long the way cemented his legacy as one of the greatest — and yes, most clutch — basketball players of all time.
But amid the tears and champagne, hugging and cheering in the Cavs locker room post-victory, the team’s majority owner Dan Gilbert was already thinking about the next big event for Cleveland — the Republican National Convention in July.
Apparently Gilbert, founder of the predatory lender Quicken Loans and staunch supporter of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), is among the many Republicans looking for an alternative to the presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
So why not approach the most popular man in Cleveland about the gig?
“I [told James] you know the Republican convention is tearing up the arena, you should insert yourself in now,” Gilbert told Cleveland.com.
“Maybe they want another candidate now,” Gilbert continued. “He actually paused for a second. He looked up and I said hold on, the Constitution says you have to be 35 to run for president.”
Watching Dan Gilbert joy makes me hope LeBron opts out before the champagne dries
— Dan Le Batard Show (@LeBatardShow) June 20, 2016
While one would hope that Gilbert was only joking about this proposition, the fact that he thought James was taking him seriously for even a split second shows how off-base he is. James is a staunch Democrat — he campaigned extensively for Barack Obama back in 2008, has pushed for tougher gun control laws, and has called for justice following the killings of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.
James has been less vocal about political and social issues lately, notably refusing to condemn the lack of indictment for the police officers who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. But its still likely that the GOP convention will be the only place in Cleveland this summer where James won’t be welcomed with open arms.
LeBron Shouldn’t Boycott Basketball. But He Should Learn Something About Tamir Rice.Sports by CREDIT: Winslow Townson, AP LeBron James, who has been called “the signature socially conscious athlete of…thinkprogress.orgThe relationship between Gilbert and James has been tense throughout the years. James played the first seven seasons of his career in Cleveland before he signed with the Miami Heat in 2010. After James announced his decision in a prime-time ESPN special, Gilbert wrote a scathing open letter to Cavs fans. He called James “our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening,” and referred to James’ decision to leave Cleveland as a “cowardly betrayal” and “shameful display of selfishness.”
Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's letter addressing LeBron's "Decision" to leave for Miami pic.twitter.com/seRsQGdID4
— Sneaker News (@SneakerNews) June 20, 2016
The two mended their relationship before James decided to return to Cleveland in 2014, but it’s hard to take back calling James a bad role model and wishing a curse on his future endeavors.
The championship on Sunday will cure a lot of ills, but considering James is once again a free agent this offseason, Gilbert needs to be careful. Pushing him into politics is probably not the best move.