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What Not To Do: A Sports Franchise Owner's Guide to Frustration

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I still can't believe what I just read. I realize this has nothing to do with the Royals or Chiefs or even Kansas City in general, but then again it has everything to do with the Royals and Chiefs and Kansas City. In fact, if there's a city with a professional sports franchise, then it's absolutely applicable.

Last night, the LeBrontosaurus went extinct in Cleveland. The Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert then went and posted a letter on the team's website that went something like this. You really need to read the letter before you continue in this post. [Pausing to allow for time.] Now let me digress.

This letter stands as an example of every single thing an owner should never ever do. In fact, I'm appalled every time I read it (four times, so far). A coach/manager should know better than this, let alone the highest member on the chain of command. How does a person become savvy enough to make millions of dollars -- enough to become a person of his stature -- and come across as this childish, throwing a virtual tantrum for all to see?

Picture this scenario in another light: Dan Gilbert just became Wayne's ex-girlfriend from the Wayne's World movie. Picture the desperate ex trying to make the other jealous and hoping they will secretly come back. In a comedic film, it's amusing. In the real world, it's depressing.

The bottom line: the one guy who is supposed to hold the line of professionalism, the one holding the team together through hard times and creating a vision to move forward is the guy writing a public letter with a pen labeled "insecurities" for all to read. No one can tell him, "Sorry, Dan, that's not a good idea." He's the owner, so they have to post his letter in this Comic Sans font complete with ALL CAPS statements and words in bold and exclamation points. Suddenly, Mr. Gilbert turned into a junior high girl who's going to hide in the bathroom stall for the entire school day.

If you actually read the letter, you should also be appalled at the content, not just the emotion or the delivery. He chastises LeBron for being selfish. He berates him and says his mission is to now one-up him. But LeBron's hometown is still in the area -- the common expectation should be that LeBron will not only maintain local ties, but will continue to monetarily invest in the area, perform charitable acts in the region and might even retire there. A few years spent in Miami doesn't change the fact that the entire region will still benefit from LeBron's presence -- even if he doesn't suit up there for the last half of his career.

Now you're really going to go for the crown? What does that imply? That you really didn't mean it before? That your moves to grab Shaq or Antawn Jamison or the others over the years were a B+ effort and now you're ready to step your game up? Does Gilbert even know what he's saying at this point? You have several franchises that just cleared house (Knicks, Nets, Clippers, Bulls) who have tons of cap room left over. Does Gilbert think he's going to go out and convince players to really "take it to LeBron" and win while he's away? The Cavs are finished.

It's really amazing, then, that Gilbert seems intent on pushing him out. What happened to being classy? What happened to just saying "we love you and appreciate your time here. I hope you know how much the fans and even I were hoping you would stay"? There's absolutely nothing to be gained by Gilbert's response (no matter how he personally feels), and the Cavaliers only become a symbol of embarrassment at this point. A passionate owner is one thing. A childish owner is another.