Dan Gilbert and LeBron James have a well-known history. It's part of the reason why bringing the superstar back to the Cleveland Cavaliers after years away was such a challenge in the first place. The reunion seemed to work out for both of them - until this offseason. Now the relationship is in tatters, and politics of all things may be the wedge that drives them away from one another - permanently - by this time next summer.

Gilbert's political donation

Rumors are constantly abounding about James' future in Cleveland, as he has the potential to be a free agent at the end of the coming season. Many believe he'll move on to the Los Angeles Lakers to be closer to the entertainment capital of the country, finding comfort in the knowledge that his legacy in Cleveland is secure. It may also be an opportunity to get away from Gilbert, however, who runs the team and has also made significant political contributions to Donald Trump in the past.

There are many professional sports owners, like Gilbert, who are in bed with Trump in some capacity; New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is about to begin a tenure as the ambassador to the United Kingdom. But James is an outspoken opponent of Trump and has been since he made a campaign appearance on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

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LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers

He has refused to stay in Trump hotels and criticized the election results. Just recently, he has called out Trump for his response to the events that took place in Charlottesville last weekend.

There have been instances of owners driving away players for political reasons - most notably with Colin Kaepernick and the NFL right now.

But it rarely goes in the opposite direction - or at least as close to it as possible - because owners have all the leverage. LeBron James is the rare exception who has just as much leverage as a Dan Gilbert; if he leaves Cleveland for that reason, it would be radical, but it may not set any sort of precedent.

Gilbert and James have history

Tension has simmered between owner and player for some time, since Gilbert wrote an infamous letter in the wake of James' initial departure for Miami.

It took a long time for James to move on from that, but now he is irked again about the decision to fire general manager David Griffin and other personnel issues the Cleveland Cavaliers are having right now. Political tensions may be the push that the superstar needs to say enough is enough and get out of dodge twelve months from now.

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