Hate Watch: Dan Gilbert The Enlightened Spartan: Hate Watch: Dan Gilbert

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hate Watch: Dan Gilbert

I hate Dan Gilbert. He is not a Spartan, he is a villain. He is attempting to steal from his alma mater. Does he really love Michigan State? If so, get Calipari or some other college coach... but you don't take a bulldozer to your own house.

Screw the Cleveland Cavaliers and all that NBA stuff. They are now my most hated team in professional sports.

Best article written yet is in the Akron Beacon Journal:

The owner of the Cavaliers was in the midst of an intense playoff game Monday night in suburban Detroit when news of the team's interest in Tom Izzo spread throughout Cleveland and Michigan.

This wasn't the NBA Finals, it was the Little League playoffs, where Dan Gilbert is just another coach on just another dusty field. He said on Tuesday he has been too busy lately to check his e-mail or messages. That might be a good thing.

Gilbert is caught between his past and his present. In order to salvage one, he might have to destroy the other.

Should Gilbert and the Cavs sway Izzo to leave Michigan State, it will come at a steep price, not only in salary, but also in stature.

Gilbert will become to his alma mater what Art Modell is here. He will be the villain who stole the franchise.

Does that matter to him? Not if the end result is an NBA championship.

If Phil Jackson isn't coming, Izzo might be the next biggest name available. But at 55 and without any NBA experience, there is plenty of risk involved on both sides. Izzo is a proven champion in college, coaxing an injured team devoid of its best talent to the Final Four in April. He has reached the Final Four in consecutive seasons now and six of the past 12.

That doesn't make him ready for the NBA, where the only recent college coach to successfully make the leap was Larry Brown. The list of failures is much longer, but that doesn't seem to be scaring away the Cavs.

"It's finding the right guy," new General Manager Chris Grant said. "When we hired Mike Brown five years ago, a lot of you might have said, 'Who's Mike Brown? Can he really coach LeBron?' Right now we're open to anything: assistant coaches, college coaches . . . When you go into a coaching search, hiring the head coach is always the most important hire because it is the most important job."

Gilbert said seven coaches have won 28 of the past 31 NBA titles. That number won't increase this season, since Doc Rivers and Jackson are already champions. Is Izzo, college hero, really the guy to break that trend?

"He doesn't know the NBA game," said one source close to Izzo, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I would hope he knows that after a timeout, you get the ball at halfcourt.

"What Tom is great at is getting a team to play hard and rebound. There's nobody better. In terms of two for ones at the end of the game or going at a guy in foul trouble, that's not his strength."

Izzo is the most iconic figure on a campus Gilbert once roamed. When Izzo speaks, people around East Lansing listen. When he shows up at a fundraiser, donations increase.

"The things he does best, of all the things he does, is off-the-court stuff," the source said. "That's really important at a university, where he's raising money. Every time a professor comes to campus, they want to meet him. Is that really going to matter that much in the pros? You're judged on wins and losses there. Nothing else."

In the NBA, Izzo is just another coach trying to coax James - should he stay - to buy into his ideas. Mike Brown had James' trust for a while, until James and the rest of the players seemed to ignore him as the conference semifinals circled the drain.

If Gilbert is convinced Izzo is his man, he won't stop until he gets him. It will get to the point where Izzo will be so overwhelmed financially, he'll either succumb to the money or run from Gilbert, insisting on staying put simply to win another national championship.

"If I were Dan and I cared about Michigan State at all, I'd try to find another coach," the source said. "If he thinks this is the guy to lead them to three world championships, then God bless him. He's gotta do what he's gotta do for his business."

The collision between Gilbert's past and present is nearing. Two cities, desperate to save their stars, eagerly await the result.

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