Cavs fans back owner on LeBron letter

CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has more fans and friends than he ever knew.

His emotional, controversial letter criticizing LeBron James for leaving to join Miami spawned an outpouring of fan support for Gilbert. A team 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 fired off his incendiary letter, ripping James' decision as "a shameful display of selfishness and betrayal." He called the MVP "narcissistic" and "self-promotional" and vowed that his Cavaliers 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 felt James quit in the playoffs the past two seasons "a little extreme."

On Tuesday, some Cleveland 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. "I will pay this fine myself, but would be grateful and highly appreciative for any fan who redirects the dollars they kindly offered to contribute towards this fine to the Cavaliers Youth Fund, which will positively impact our region's kids through the numerous local charitable groups the Cavaliers Youth Fund supports."