Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has more fans and friends than he ever knew.
His emotional, controversial letter criticizing LeBron James for leaving to join the Miami Heat spawned an outpouring of fan support for Gilbert. A spokesman said the team has received thousands of e-mails and phone calls, including some from fans offering to help Gilbert pay a $100,000 NBA-imposed fine.
Last week, Gilbert's letter ripped James' decision as "a shameful display of selfishness and betrayal." He called the MVP "narcissistic" and "self-promotional" and vowed that Cleveland would win a championship before "the self-titled former king." Apparently, the message was just what the spurned fans of Cleveland wanted to hear.
Commissioner David Stern wasn't as pleased. He fined Gilbert on Monday, calling the letter and comments Gilbert later made in an interview with The Associated Press that he believed James quit in the playoffs the past two seasons "a little extreme." Tuesday Cavs fans offered to pitch in to help Gilbert pay the penalty. Gilbert issued a statement of thanks.
"The humbling offer by so many is another reflection of the strength of Cavs fans and the people who live and work in this region and are always the first to step up and have each other's back," Gilbert said.
Ilgauskas to Heat
Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who started playing for Cleveland in 1997 and has never suited up for another NBA team, expects to sign a two-year contract with the Heat later this week, agent Herb Rudoy said . . . The Bobcats traded Tyson Chandler and fellow center Alexis Ajinca to the Mavericks for center Erick Dampier, forward Eduardo Najera, guard Matt Carroll and cash . . . Minnesota agreed to send power forward Al Jefferson to Utah for two future first-round draft picks and the salary-cap trade exception. - AP