OAKLAND, Calif. -- Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert took to Twitter shortly before the start of Game 1 of the NBA Finals to give credit, as he sees it, for why the Cavs are just four wins away from a championship after a season rife with turmoil.
Not surprisingly, Gilbert started his praise with LeBron James, the Cavs superstar who followed up an MVP-caliber regular season by averaging 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 rebounds through the first three rounds of the playoffs to help the Cavs reach their fourth straight Finals. James scored 51 points in Thursday's 124-114 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors.
(1/3) @cavs fans, despite multiple challenges, we have arrived at the NBA Finals for the 4th year in a row w/the opportunity to win our 2nd ring in 3 yrs. The biggest 3 reasons (among many) we are again here in Oakland a few minutes from the tip-off to Game 1 of the Finals are...— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) June 1, 2018
(2/3) 1. LeBron James - No words describe his level of play & commitment to this game. His impact is magical. We go as he goes.— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) June 1, 2018
2. The dedication & underlying belief of KLove, TT, JR , Korver, Green, G.Hill, Larry, Clarkson, Cedi, Ante, Perk & every other player on this roster
(3/3) 3. Trade 1.0 last summer & Trade 2.0 at the deadline led by a humble, talented, young GM: Koby Altman.— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) June 1, 2018
W/o either of these 2 bold moves orchestrated by Koby & the @Cavs front office, we would not be here w/ a good chance to bring another one home to CLE. #WhateverItTakes
It came a day after James commented on the dynamic between him and Gilbert in an exclusive sit-down interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols.
"Our relationship has always been a working relationship," James said. "And we was able to mend the things that went on in the past when I came back. He apologized to me and my family and things of that nature. ... We have a great working relationship. It's not like we're not the best friends, and I don't think you should be best friends with a player and an owner shouldn't be best friends unless I'm your father and that's my son, and, OK, cool we could be great then. But I think it's worked out for us both in these four years so far since I've been back."
Gilbert then commended the rest of the Cavs' core rotation players by name before finishing his comments by highlighting Cavs rookie general manager Koby Altman, who orchestrated two major trades in a six-month span. First, he traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in August, and then he sent six players out -- including Isaiah Thomas, acquired in the Celtics deal -- and welcomed in four new players at the trade deadline in February.
Gilbert's choice to include the first trade as a positive outcome -- a deal that has been widely panned, especially with the Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick from the deal only ending up No. 8 in the lottery -- could have been influenced by James revisiting the Irving trade with Nichols.
"I felt like it was just bad for our franchise just to be able to trade away our superstar point guard," James said. "A guy that I had been in so many battles with over the last three years, and obviously I wasn't a part of the communications and know exactly what went on between the two sides, but I just felt like it was bad timing for our team to just get rid of our point guard in Kyrie Irving."
Irving underwent season-ending knee surgery in April and missed the Celtics' entire playoff run, which ended in a Game 7 loss to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals. Thomas also underwent season-ending hip surgery after being dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Later, at halftime of Game 1, Gilbert added another tweet in which he recognized Cavs coach Tyronn Lue and the rest of his coaching staff.
And 4th, for 4 years in a row...— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) June 1, 2018
Ty Lue and staff have stood in there with about as much noise and premature judgment that can be thrown at a coach and guided us back to the dance. Grinders and professionals. Proud of Ty and everyone on the entire staff...