(Reuters) - The Cleveland Cavaliers are polishing up a determined bid to bring LeBron James back, finally removing from their website the scathing letter written by the team’s owner to fans after their star player chose Miami as a free agent four years ago.
Now with the Cavs intent on luring the Akron, Ohio, native back to Cleveland as a member of the 2014 free agent class, the NBA team removed an old link to Dan Gilbert’s impassioned letter that was active as recently as Sunday.
Hours after James went on a nationally televised special to reveal his controversial decision to join the star-studded Miami Heat rather than re-sign with his home-state Cavaliers, Gilbert lashed out in anger.
The angry letter described the move by James as “selfish,” “heartless,” “callous,” and a “cowardly betrayal” - and vowed that a curse would deny him the championships he craved in Miami and that the Cavaliers would win a title without him.
The NBA fined Gilbert $100,000 for the comments.
James went on to lead Miami to four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and two titles while Cleveland finished last in their five-team division three years in a row before a third-place finish last season.
Cleveland’s struggles, however, may have set the Cavaliers up as an attractive team for a James homecoming as the high draft picks they garnered as a result allowed them to amass a core of talented young players.
Cleveland recently reached agreement with premier point guard Kyrie Irving, the 2011 number one overall draft pick, to a five-year extension worth about $90 million, and they used the top pick last month on high-leaping forward Andrew Wiggins.
With James retaining a home in the Akron area and strong family ties in the area, the Heat have been hard-pressed under the tight NBA salary cap to retool a team that were humbled in last month’s NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs.
His ultimate decision could put the NBA’s balance of power at stake and make whatever team he chooses an instant contender.
Heat president Pat Riley, who is expected to meet soon with James, said on Monday that agreements are in place to sign free agent power forward Josh McRoberts and small forward Danny Granger as part of their push for the four-time league most valuable player.
The slick passing McRoberts, 27, averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game last season with the Charlotte Hornets.
Granger, a former All-Star who has a career scoring average of 17.4 points over nine seasons, split last season between the Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Clippers and averaged 8.2 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue