LeBron James spent 11 seasons — including the first seven of his career — with the Cleveland Cavaliers as their No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.
However, when James decided to leave the Cavaliers the first time in 2010, owner Dan Gilbert came out with a scathing letter in response, showing something of a contentious relationship with him.
Of course, that didn’t stop James from returning home in 2014, but the relationship between the two sides never seemed to be more than that of a business one. James helped bring the Cavaliers their first championship in 2016, so Gilbert will forever be grateful but he also knows everything that comes with James being on the roster.
There has been a lot of talk about the Los Angeles Lakers timeline changing after signing James as they must immediately shift into a win-now mode. In a recent interview with Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com, Gilbert discussed exactly that, saying everything must always revolve around James:
“With LeBron (James), there was a limited shelf life in terms of his age and his contract commitment,’’ said Gilbert. “It’s a win now at all costs. . . It all revolves around the sun, which is him.” Gilbert paused, then added: “Whatever pressure comes with it, it worked out. We won a title.”
One major difference in what James has done with the Lakers was to sign a long-term deal. When James returned to Cleveland, he would sign a two-year deal with a player option, meaning he was always capable of leaving at the end of each season. This, in turn, forced the Cavaliers to always operate in the moment without the ability to plan for the future.
This also was the case with head coaches as Gilbert said that certain changes were made due to the win-now culture that James comes with:
Gilbert said some of the coaching changes were “due to the win-now culture with LeBron.”
At the end of the day, everything is all about winning. Gilbert may not care for everything that comes with having James on the team but if the end result is a championship, he’ll take it. The same undoubtedly holds true for the Lakers.
The Lakers are providing more than enough drama on their own that James has nothing to do with, but there have been some questions surrounding him as well. Regardless, if the Lakers are back in championship contention for the 2019-20 NBA season and beyond, no one will care about anything else.