Dan Gilbert considers LeBron James a partner, vows to keep spending big

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert hasn’t always had the best relationship with superstar LeBron James.

In fact, it could be said they were bitter enemies at one point after James left for Miami. Yet since James re-committed to the city of Cleveland and won a championship for his hometown team, things are looking up.

This is true to the point now where Gilbert considers his relationship with LeBron James to be a “partnership.”

Speaking on the Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo and Je’Rod Cherry on ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland (via ESPN.com), Gilbert talked about how good things were before the split. He said there was only one bad night in the first five years.

“But we never had a bad day until the way it ended. And as bad as it was, it was one day, it was one night and everybody is a grown man and obviously we focused on the job here. And sometimes things happen for a reason, right? You just never know it at the time.”

He also made it clear that the team’s vision moving forward would be shaped in large part by James.

“We go deep and talk about stuff and figure out where we need to go as a partnership,” Gilbert said of his meetings with James, which often also include James’ representative, Rich Paul, as well as Cavs minority owners Jeff Cohen and Nate Forbes. “It’s really a partnership when you think about it.”

James recently made his opinion known about how integral J.R. Smith is to the team’s success while the forward was still in a contract stalemate with the organization. When asked about spending big, he didn’t hesitate to say he’s willing to lay down the dough.

“Not even a thought,” Gilbert said. “Let’s picture this: A little cash in the bank or a championship ring — what would you take? Not even close. I think it was my grandfather who told me that anybody that dies with money in the bank is a failure. Where are you going to take it? So you might as well invest it in the right things and try to positively impact the world as much as you can. So that’s what we believe.”

As the preeminent player of his generation, there can be no doubt Gilbert is going the right thing by viewing James in such a light. Always a team-first guy, rather than a get-my-own type of player, there is also no doubt that James’ thoughts on what is needed going forward will be worthy of consideration.

He’s also made it clear Cleveland is his home now and doesn’t intend to leave via free agency.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this relationship between player and owner develops in the coming years. If they can successfully partner, the Cavs will likely be championship contenders for as long as James remains at the top of his game.