Gilbert admitted that his 2010 essay to fans after James opted to leave Cleveland to sign with the Miami Heat, in which Gilbert called the move a "betrayal" by James, could have used self-censorship.
In that essay, the owner also promised Cavaliers fans that the team would win a title before James would on his new team. The Heat went on to win the NBA Finals in 2012 and 2013, while Cleveland failed to make the playoffs in each of the four seasons without James.
"Well, I learned my lessons on guarantees and predictions and stuff, so I don’t do much of that anymore these days," Gilbert said. "I do believe we put together a team and a coaching staff and a front office that’s worked very hard certainly to put us in a position to compete at a high level. That’s why you play the games."
Gilbert was also asked about whether he feels his team "deserved" to have James return after his reaction four years ago.
"I don’t know if ‘deserve’ is a word that I sort of look at in this context," he said. "No unless, you’re really doing some significant harm to another human being, I don’t think the bridge is ever burned. We had a night where emotions were flying high on all sides."
Since the end of last season, the Cavaliers promoted interim general manager David Griffin to a permanent basis and brought in coach David Blatt fresh off a Euroleague title with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Cleveland also added Kevin Love in a three-team trade in August and brought in veteran players such as Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones to surround James.
The Cavaliers open their 2014-15 season on Thursday by hosting the New York Knicks.
- Phil Watson