Of course we can’t count our chickens yet, but with the Miami Heat having taken a 3-1 NBA Finals lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and given that no team in NBA history has ever even made it to a seventh game after facing such a deficit, it’s only prudent to do some financial planning here. Because of course, if the Heat close this thing out, we’ll have a lot of extra cash on our hands thanks to Dan Gilbert.
I want to make one statement to you tonight: “I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship before the self-titled former ‘king’ wins one.”
You can take it to the bank.
Those quotation marks were added by Gilbert himself to emphasize his guarantee, and he’s stood by his words when given the opportunity to back down. So even if you don’t appreciate the progressive strike for labor against capital, and/or the strike against astonishingly reductive and regressive demonization campaigns, and/or the strike against general ignorance and intolerance that a Heat championship will represent, you must at least be able to appreciate that there’s no place to go but straight to the bank as soon as it happens.
So how much will Gilbert owe us for failing to make good on his guarantee?
For starters, a full refund for every Cavs ticket purchased over the last two seasons, because when you react to an event that depresses your customers by promising those customers that you’ll deliver something that will cure their depression (“take it to the bank”), you’re inducing them to buy your product with the promise. So with an average ticket price of $36 multiplied by 525,577 for the 2011-12 season, and 824,595 for 2010-2011 (which takes care of Gilbert’s great 2010 season ticket rope-a-dope as well), we come in with $48,606,192 for starters.
Estimate another $100 million for the impact of the guarantee on the Cavaliers TV and radio contracts, as well as merchandise sales (we can get more clarity on these numbers through discovery if necessary but of course it shouldn’t come to that).
And finally the most important piece of compensation, for the pain and suffering, general emotional damages, loss of quiet enjoyment, loss of consortium, etc. suffered by those who had to choke on the flames of ignorance and intolerance that resulted from Gilbert’s self-serving guarantee, that itself was of course an inseparable part of his astonishingly reductive and regressive demonization campaign. Put us in for a conservative estimate of $700,000,000 for that, which brings us to a grand total of $850,000,000 (figuring we’ll give a break with only a small rounding up for concession sales). Even after paying us Gilbert will still have a net worth of $250 million, so it’s really just a drop in the bucket to him.
And for us? Assuming we’ll all agree to keep the money pooled (and why wouldn’t we?) … Meaningful campaign finance reform? Eminent domain seizures of the Browns, Cavs and Indians? A massive Chief Wahoo removal/disavowal ceremony? High speed gravity trains connecting Cedar Point with the region’s major metropolitan centers? Zip-lines to Put-in-Bay? A new parking lot for downtown Cleveland? A limited edition run of Eric Mangini Fatheads? Centuries of unprecedented peace and prosperity?
It’s all on the table for now. Of course we can’t count chickens yet but there’s a good argument that things have never looked brighter here, and all thanks to the 330. The sooner the Heat close this thing out, the better, of course.