Cleveland backs owner's rant on jilting James

CLEVELAND — David Loomis, a marketing consultant and professor, is soft-spoken and friendly. His demeanor reflects his professional commitment to what might be described as holistic branding. He preaches that "marketing is everything we do," and among the guiding principles listed on his Web site are: "Build bridges," "Be diplomatic" and "Don't draw conclusions too early."

Now he might have to consider adding, "When all that fails, go ahead and tell them what you really think."

Even Loomis cheered the scathing response by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Daniel Gilbert to LeBron James' announcement Thursday night that he was leaving Cleveland, after seven years, for the Miami Heat. Gilbert issued a statement calling James' handling of his free agency "narcissistic" and his departure "cowardly."

"It's really unprecedented," said Loomis, but it was spot on because the statement, however angry, cannot be separated from the context. Loomis compared James' intentionally high-profile announcement to "dumping your wife on a Jumbotron."

Loomis is not alone. From sports talk radio to social media to office chatter, many Clevelanders expressed both shock and glee over Gilbert's tirade.

Jon Silver, a regional sales manager for a plastics company and lifelong Cleveland sports fan, said Gilbert "said what all of us would have liked to say." He acknowledged that the comments could have consequences later, when the team tries to lure free agents, but added that it was "absolutely refreshing" to hear after James "went on national TV to slap us."

Gilbert doubled down in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday night, accusing James of quitting in the playoffs and saying that people had covered up for him for too long. He did not elaborate, but every indication is that the team will finally pull back the curtain on its dealings with James and his inner circle.

Gilbert chose not to face the local news media Friday afternoon. But judging from the comments Friday afternoon of the team's new general manager, Chris Grant, and the coach, Byron Scott, backpedaling is not an option.

"He is one of the most passionate owners in sports, and I think he's earned the right to voice his opinion," Grant said at a news conference.

Scott said, "I want an owner like that."

Man claiming to befather sues James

WASHINGTON — A former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission attorney who claims to be the biological father of LeBron James has filed a lawsuit seeking at least $4 million from the basketball superstar and his mother for denying paternity.

Leicester Bryce Stovell filed the suit against James and his mother, Gloria, in federal court here June 23. Stovell accuses her of "maliciously" denying that they met at a bar in 1984 and had a "one-night, unprotected sexual relationship."

"It is overwhelmingly likely that he is the son of me and defendant Gloria James," Stovell wrote in the 22-page complaint. "He also likely is aware that I am his father."

The complaint was first reported on the Web site

Stovell's lawsuit says the basketball player agreed to join him in taking DNA tests in Ohio in 2007. While Stovell was told the results revealed a "0 percent probability of paternity," he says he thinks someone might have tampered with the test.

Gloria James told ESPN the Magazine in 2002 that her son's father is a man named Anthony McClelland.

'The Decision' a ratings hit

NEW YORK — Early television ratings for ESPN indicate there was twice as much interest in LeBron James' decision on where to play in the city he is leaving than in the city he's going to.

The Nielsen Co.'s overnight measurement in the nation's 56 biggest cities show more than seven of every 100 homes with television sets was tuned to ESPN to see where James would play. It's expected to be the biggest audience ESPN has ever gotten for a news program.

In Cleveland, The Decision drew a 26 rating — meaning more than one in four homes had TVs tuned to ESPN to see James say he was leaving his hometown Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.

In Miami, the show had a 12.8 rating.