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News » Cavs' great opportunity - if it's real

Cavs' great opportunity - if it's real

Cavs' great opportunity - if it's real
Can't wait to see what's next in the saga of Chinese investors taking an interest in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is either a highly significant story, with untold ramifications down the road, or a colossal misunderstanding.

The sequence of events:

May 22: James hits that shot for the ages, a 25-foot buzzer-beater in Cleveland that prevents the Cavs from going down 2-0 to Orlando. Given that it staved off the latest in a long series of Cleveland sports heartbreaks, it is ranked with the greatest clutch shots of all time. JianHua Kenny Huang , a Chinese businessman with a history of linking American and Chinese companies, witnesses the action from the courtside box of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

Last Saturday: The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Gilbert has "a tentative agreement in place" allowing Huang's group to purchase a "significant stake" of franchise ownership. Several news outlets go a step further, reporting that the deal has been "completed." It's a jolt of relief for the Cavs, whose minority ownership has experienced serious financial difficulties, and it seems to end all talk of James leaving Cleveland for the New York Knicks or any other team in 2010. James and Nike, his primary sponsor, have been laying endorsement groundwork in China for the past four years, and the proposed deal would pave the way for LeBron's goal: to become a global billionaire with an unlimited revenue stream.

Monday: Reaction is swift and positive. Although such a deal would require approval by the NBA's board of governors, Commissioner David Stern tells the New York Times that it would be "the next natural step in our relationship with China" and "very much a validation of our business expansion there."

Tuesday: The Cavs suddenly find themselves on the verge of playoff disaster, falling behind 3-1 in the series with a 116-114 loss in Orlando.

That same day: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Chinese company in question, New World Development Ltd., has denied any interest in Cavaliers ownership. It quotes Kwan Chuk-fai , New World's director of corporate affairs, as saying, "None whatsoever. We didn't even consider such a deal."

There has been no official word from Huang, who seemed to be the catalyst behind the arrangement, nor has there been any explanation of the conflicting reports. But it's safe to say this story has drawn everyone's attention around the league. Does it solidify LeBron's desire to stay in Cleveland? Or are the Cavs not so attractive to potential buyers if they flame out in the playoffs and James begins to consider other options?

Weak showing That wasn't an impressive Game 5 win by the Cavaliers, not by any stretch of the imagination. They took a 32-10 lead and later found themselves trailing by eight, scaring the heck out of the paying customers. LeBron was absurdly good, as always, but the Cavs needed those clutch three-pointers from Daniel Gibson , essentially buried on the Cleveland bench by coach Mike Brown in so many previous games ... The Cavs' fatal mistake, aside from shoddy defense, might be keeping their bench players mystified as to their playing time. That's been a problem for the Lakers, too, and coach Phil Jackson referred to the '75 Warriors the other day when he said, "They had 11 guys playing on their 12-man roster. I haven't seen a team quite like that, one that could play consistent Basketball that way. We're trying to find roles for 10 guys." ... Would LeBron or Kobe Bryant make the 12-man roster of the NBA's all-time team? We address that issue in today's 3-Dot Blog ... Why the Dodgers are so clearly the best team in the NL West: Upon losing Manny Ramirez , they immediately reinvented themselves with Juan Pierre, Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson , a trio of run manufacturers, batting 1-2-3 in the lineup. In the first inning of their 2-1 victory over the Cubs on Thursday, Pierre led off with a single and stole second. With third baseman Mike Fontenot playing in, Furcal pushed a bunt so cleverly through the left side of the infield, Pierre scored from second. That's life without Manny, and it works.

Two myths about the Oakland A's: 1 They're a small-market team. No, they have small-thinking ownership in a very large market. 2 They're never in position to spend much money. Not if you focus on Charlie Finley or Lew Wolff , but on the set of "Chronicle Live" the other night, former A's executive Sandy Alderson pointed out that in the A's heyday of the Haas ownership in the early 90s, they had the largest payroll in baseball ... On the other side of the bay, executive Pat Gallagher announced his retirement after serving the Giants for 32 years. Among other things, Gallagher was credited with bringing the "Crazy Crab" to Candlestick in 1984, and he was also the brains behind the "Croix de Candlestick" for fans proud to have stayed late on chilly summer nights. Gallagher recalled that when he joined the organization in 1976, "The front office had 23 people, box seats were $5, beer was a buck and Herb Caen was a must-read every morning." ... Disturbing: trade rumors centering around the Warriors' Monta Ellis . True, he has his shortcomings, but the Warriors need to see how he fares in a full season as the two-guard. They'd better be careful; they could get burned so badly in a trade, they'd spend the entire season looking like beach-going rubes who forgot the suntan lotion.

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Added: May 30, 2009


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