Usher, Gund, Katzman also have stake

Updated: March 1, 2005, 8:39 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Gordon Gund shed the gold-and-wine striped tie, like the lucky one he wore when the Cavaliers won the NBA lottery and LeBron James, and handed it to Dan Gilbert in a symbolic passing of ownership.

Dan Gilbert
AP Photo/Mark DuncanDan Gilbert, with Usher in the background, talks about taking over the Cavs.

Gilbert appreciated the gesture. But he was more interested in getting a crushed velvet jacket like Usher's.

"Don't worry," the R&B superstar and Cavaliers part owner told Gilbert as his Grammy-winning single "Yeah!" pulsated in the background. "I'll send you one."

Usher's offer came moments after a news conference unlike any other in Cleveland sports history: High-tech video monitors, some hip-hop, a cutting-edge owner and a worldwide superstar who can actually steal the spotlight from James.

Cleveland has never been this hot in winter.

The Cavaliers entered a new and exciting era of basketball on Tuesday as Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans, officially assumed control of the team that he paid $375 million for.

Like James, who on the night he was drafted promised to "light Cleveland up like Las Vegas," Gilbert wants to make the city and region known for more than its nasty weather, comic Drew Carey and professional sports frustration.

"I'm frankly tired of everything is California and New York," Gilbert said. "We're going to have exciting times here."

Gilbert heads a principal ownership group that includes Usher, business partner and first cousin David Katzman, and Gund, who has owned the team since 1983 and is retaining nearly a 15-percent share.

In his first hours as owner, the 42-year-old Gilbert displayed some of the wit, business savvy and foresight that helped him turn a $5,000 investment in the mid-1980s into an online mortgage empire.

After being introduced by Gund, Gilbert began his remarks with a joke about his latest investment.

"Did the check clear, Gordon?" Gilbert said.

"It did," Gund said with a smile.

The contrast in personalities between Gilbert and Gund is striking. While Gund is reserved, Gilbert is the life of the party. Under Gund, the Cavaliers operated in a low-key manner, choosing to be secretive about their plans. Gilbert's outlook is to make Cleveland an entertainment mecca.

Or as Usher said: "We're going to turn this thing up a notch, if we can."

Gilbert's purchase of the Cavaliers was completed Tuesday when the NBA's 30 owners unanimously approved the sale. He is the fourth owner in Cleveland's 35-year history. His brother, Gary, also is a minority owner.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press