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Issue Date: April 2008

The Influentials: Dan Gilbert

Owner, Cleveland Cavaliers

Fans hold their breath any time a sports franchise goes up for sale. When that team also has one of the league’s biggest stars on its roster, the hand wringing starts. People forget now there was uncertainty when Gordon Gund put the Cavaliers up for sale in 2004. Would the new ownership group commit to funding a championship-caliber organization? Would it fit with LeBron? Would he re-sign with the team? Three seasons into the Dan Gilbert era, the answers are yes, yes and yes. Hiring a top-notch front office and coaching staff that took the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for the first time ever in 2007, and committing the cash to keep LeBron here with a new contract, while still picking up key acquisitions, get most of the press. But the Quicken Loans founder also invested $27 million to update the arena, paid for a new $25 million training facility for the team, brought minor-league hockey back to Cleveland with the Lake Erie Monsters and showed his commitment to the city by opening a Quicken Loans office downtown in 2006.

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