Man oh man, you gotta feel sorry for Dan oh Dan. Gilbert that is. It’s not enough that his marquee player left him on live TV, but then he got slapped by the commish to the tune of $100K for his response to the televised dumping. Granted, the break-up letter that the Cleveland Cavaliers owner posted on the team website was the mother of all spurned lover letters.
Imagine taking the audio from a recently dumped emo boy’s voicemail message to his ex and then post it to the Internet in CAPS and Comic Sans. It adds a nice slice of embarrassment to the big piece of pathos and pain that is the “Mistake by the Lake’s” morning breakfast.
To help get Gilbert through this trying time, this edition of Essentially A Playlist is all about the breakup: anger, heartbreak, despair, rage, pleading — it’s all here.
Diana Ross & The Supremes — “You Keep Me Hanging On” [from Tamla Motown Gold]
This is the theme song for the weeks leading up to ESPN’s The Decision. Will LeBron James join the youth movement in Chicago? Will he prove the crazy Chinese Olympic rumor was true? Will he save Knicks fans from themselves? Or will he stay true to his roots? James even kept us hanging on that much more — they said the decision would be revealed at the ten minute mark and it wasn’t until we were over twenty minutes that he said he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”
Chicago — “If You Leave Me Now” [from Greatest Hits, Vol. 2]
Peter Cetera managed to nail that first moment of clarity and regret when he sang, “How could we end it all this way / When tomorrow comes and we’ll both regret / The things we said today.” James really did take away the biggest part of the Cavs and Cleveland sports fans hopes.
The O’Jays — “Backstabbers” [from Backstabbers]
For the younger folks in the audience this is not that O.J. and not that stabbing. I’m not sure if James is the backstabber “[s]miling in your face / All the time he wants to go to South Beach” [not the actual lyrics] or if Dwayne Wade and the rest of the people trying to woo “King James” are the “folks com[ing] to [Gilbert’s] house again and again and again and again” during free agency.
George Jones — “He Stopped Loving Her Today” [from Anniversary: Ten Years of Hits]
He is James. Her is Cleveland specifically, and Ohio generally.
The Rheostatics — “Record Body Count” [from Melville]
This one isn’t a break-up song, but it’s suffice to say with the way James murdered the collective hopes of Ohioan sports fans and the ratings ESPN pulled for the crime footage, this was a record body count.
Ben Folds Five — “Song For The Dumped” [from Whatever And Ever Amen]
Here we have where Gilbert went over the edge and posted the now-infamous break-up letter. When he writes: “THE SELF-DECLARED FORMER ‘KING’ WILL BE TAKING THE ‘CURSE’ WITH HIM DOWN SOUTH. AND UNTIL HE DOES ‘RIGHT’ BY CLEVELAND AND OHIO, JAMES (AND THE TOWN WHERE HE PLAYS) WILL UNFORTUNATELY OWN THIS DREADED SPELL AND BAD KARMA,” you can basically substitute Folds singing “give me my money back you b*h.”
The Smiths — “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” [from Hatful Of Hollow]
Kind of like the way you know the guy in this song is not going to get what he wants despite his pleas, it’s pretty apparent that when Gilbert writes, “I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE,” he is wrong in a percentage equal to the fine Stern leveled.
Yvonne Elliman — “If I Can’t Have You” [from Night Flight]
“If I can’t have you / I don’t want nobody baby,” a sentiment that Cavs fans must be wrestling with as they look at what’s left in the free agent pool and consider how they’re going to assemble an above .500 team around Varejão.
Prince — “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man” [from The Hits 1]
This one’s for whomever Gilbert ends up getting in sign-and-trade to fill the gaping maw that is James’s spot on the court. Seriously, even if Charles Barkley secretly gave birth to Wilt Chamberlain’s lovechild in Canton, the kid had both dad’s NBA DNA and Gilbert signed him, this song would apply.
Rocket From The Tombs — “Read It And Weep” [from The Day The Earth Met The Rocket From The Tombs]
I was thinking about closing on a note of hope for Cleveland, but “Cleveland Rocks” is heard enough on reruns of the Drew Carey Show and ultimately it’s false hope. Instead I leave you with one of Cleveland’s best bands (and forebear of Pere Ubu, the best act from Cleveland) and the last word on Dan Gilbert’s letter — read it and weep.