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Jesse Jackson compares Dan Gilbert's LeBron rant to slavery. Just when you thought that story couldn't get crazier.

Jul 11, 2010, 10:48 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for ljames_points.jpgJesse Jackson went off the deep end today. I have no other way to describe this commentary on the Rainbow Push Website.

“(Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert) speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship — between business partners — and LeBron honored his contract.”

A slave that makes $15 million a year?

Neither Dan Gilbert nor the Cavaliers have commented. Probably best they don’t. Take the high road this time.

Jackson suggests that Dan Gilbert thinks LeBron did something “illegal or illicit.” Jackson makes some valid points about the importance and role of free agency in sports.

Jackson also misses the point. He misses the emotional connection with players and teams that fans have. That owers have, too. Gilbert’s reaction was not that of someone who thought the system was the problem (although there are whispers of collusion). 

Gilbert lost it, and he certainly felt betrayed. But these struck me more as the feelings at the end of a bad breakup relationship. Gilbert — and the entire city of Cleveland — had been emotionally invested in James. They saw him as one of their own. They cared — they cared more than Miami (television ratings for the James egofest television show were double in Cleveland what they were in Miami).

And they got their hearts ripped out. And Gilbert lashed out, expressing what a lot of people were thinking in his city.

But to make the leap from there to Gilbert the slave owner takes some mental gymnastics. Unrealistic mental gymnastics.

This was about championships and money and emotions. It was not about slavery or the system.

365 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Sir Ron - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Jesse is way off track with his remarks and furthermore, nobody really cares what Jesse thinks…nobody black or white. At this point in his life, he’s an embarassment to blacks. Maybe that’s why the media keeps him on. In any black vs white situation, someone can always ‘interpret’ a “master vs slave” mentality. But why? Gilbert is wrong for what he is saying, but it’s just emotions (he just lost $250,000,000.00 asset overnite). And Lebron is wrong for making it a ‘grandiose’ sensation in the announcement. He should have been as classy as Garnett when he left Minnesota for Boston.
    It’s not ‘racist’ it’s ‘business’. And Jesse needs to get him some.

  2. bh0673 - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    What a racist comment!!

  3. Tom Merritt - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    I’m 61 years of age, white, and am often accused of being a reverse racist. These comments from Jackson are nuts. I think the owner was more ticked at how LeBron handled the situation and the fact that he didn’t even have the decency and sense to call the man ahead of the announcement and let him know he was leaving. If he had done that I doubt the level of anger would have been exhibited that got out to the media. I wish someone would make me a professional basketball slave for $ 120 million plus tons more for endorsements.

  4. D RO - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    Two men making $$$$$$$$$ , and lots of it, to be involved in professional sports. Slavery on either side of the coin, I think not! As a life long law enforecement officer, I ask you to step back and think. Is this all so important, start investing in our future…our children.

  5. henninger99 - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    Give me a break! Why does some idiot like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton always have to bring race into everything. This is not about race… it’s not even about Lebron James leaving the Cavs… it’s about the WAY he announced it. It was a complete slap in the face to the Cavs. I don’t think race ever even became an issue until Jackson decided it was an issue. And notice I won’t use “Rev.” anywhere near Jackson or Sharpton’s names. My dad was a pastor for 50 years or so and I know what a Reverand is supposed to be like… and neither of those two come even close! They both need to just shut up and go get a real job!

  6. No Sympathy Here - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    Don’t get played by Jesse Jackson. He is irrelevant and only looking for attention. Turn the page & move on. Ignore him.

  7. D RO - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    THANKS msnbc.com perfect timing on the article listed below:
    The 8 lowest-paying jobs in America
    Fast-food workers, dishwashers, cashiers top the list

  8. Naturalized American - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    This is an impasse! No matter how many undercover exposes are shown on TV, most white people’d refuse to see racism, which most blacks are prompt to spot because they live it day in day out. It gets ridiculous when a white pastor makes it his business to lambast LeBron James from the pulpit as one did in Richmond, Texas yesterday.
    Reconciliation seems too much to hope for. Self-sufficiency may better offer the prospects for mutual respect. From the ranks of small business owners in the community, through the ranks of team owners, all the way to some sense of responsibility by African governments, non-blacks have no motivation to empathize with the perspectives of black people – whether in America, Europe, or come to think of it, in Africa.

  9. charles walker - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    Was that Jesse the Jack Ass Jackson again?
    What a idiot. I don’t use the N word but
    if I did he would at the top of the list.

  10. EVH - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    well said

  11. Mornelithe - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    Jesse Jackson playing the race card? You don’t say. Where’s that other leech, Sharpton? They should get together with Spike Lee and do a film about the poor plight of Lebron James.

  12. kee-lai - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    yes,yes. but what we’re all forgetting is that you can say these words and they will be seen and heard, but in the long run, words are sounds made up of letters. Some have very few letters, while others, well, others have many, many good letters. And I dare say that those of us who look to the future can clearly see that navigating the lanscape of people and words can not be done on a jetski, no, but on a bicycle. we must all ride, ride ride our way through this lambastic forest of speaky-grass and rise, rise , RISE to the heavens my good peoples and friends. Many loves to you all!

  13. Doug from PA - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    I think you are confusing Slavery with Indentured Servitude. Slaves were NOT compensated, the definition of slavery encompasses “against one’s will” which is where the Rev is off-base. Gilbert is a petulant child, idiotic and was unhappy that “the Help” saw fit to move on. Which is of course his right. And to all here who make the statement racism is dead does not live with their eyes open. Just look that the last election, the comments and “stuff” that came out of NORTHERN states like PA … and you can see that (and I will concede to a point) racism is no longer as perversely prevalent, but discrimination and prejudice is alive and well. And I am NOT black by the way, and can easily see this. Walk with your eyes open people!! Lebron is a narcissist, nothing more, Jesse is an opportunist, Gilbert is a child

  14. lb - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    MAKE NO MISTAKE PEOPLE. JACKSON IS ON TARGET. WHY YOU THINK THERE ARE SO MANY COMMENTS FROM THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO CONTINUE HIDING BEHING WHITE SHEETS, PRETENDING ALL IS WELL IN AMERICA.
    JACKSON IN 10001% PERCENT ON TARGET, MAKE THAT NAIL SINK IN PEOPLE, WE ALL KNOW IT’S TRUTH TO THE UPTEENTH DEGREE. ((if there is such a thing))
    THIS IS A GROWN MAN WHO THEY WANT TO HOLD DOWN WITH THANK YOU “massa” FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.
    GET A LIFE FOLKS………..LET THE MAN BE. “ON TARGET MR JACKSON-Well Said!”

  15. Skids - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    Really stupid comments, Herbert. If he wants to find another job playing a game making $15 million, he’s welcome to go try it. Get over it. Grow up, people, including alot of “your” people, are getting sick of it.

  16. dragopooch - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    There are over 12 million legal slaves in the world today.Legal meaning that the owning of people is approved by the government.Quit your whining about an abstract,pretzel logic, figment of your imagination possiblity.Jesse has never seeen slavery in the United States.Get over yourself and just fade away,or go to jail for misuse of the Rainbow Coalitions funds for your mistress.

  17. uncle tom - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    Gary Arnold and Bill Cosby showed the humanity of blacks to over 100 million white people paving the way for better relations. Jackson has illegitimate children, destroyed a man’s life in the Tawana Brawley case and refused to apologize for it, and has done scant little in the past 15 years except make inane comments about topics unrelated to race. His biggest accomplishment is having been present when King was shot in Memphis. He was kicked out of the SCLC, founded PUSH and later Rainbow Coalition which were visible, yet arguably non-entities with the passage of any specific laws. His best real achievement is his raising awareness of the Apartheid in South Africa, which led to the international pressure that ended the Apartheid. The last 15 years have consisted primarily of Jackson editorializing current events and creating more division than unity. Bear in mind, Jackson receives $0 donations if there’s no racism.

  18. Whatever - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Racism is still alive because because like you refuse to act as if it doesn’t exist.

  19. FedUp - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    Why are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton ALWAYS part of the problem and NEVER part of the solution? This HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE yet he is making it about that. The owner never said anything even remotely racially charged. In fact he said nothing other than James quit on the team in the playoffs. Maybe if Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton got real jobs and stopped trying to incite racial tensions, people would get along better.

  20. Darryl B. - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    Gina,
    You hit it on the head. I don’t agree with the way LaBron or ESPN did the annoucement of Labron’s decision. However, LaBron has the right that any other employee has in making a decision to stay with his/her current employer or to leave. Now, if anyone disagrees with that right they need to look in the mirror and lie to themself.
    Now, Sports is no different than any other business. The owner is only concerned about the bottom line not the players or fans. Look at Clevelands previous coach he didn’t win it all and was fired. Where was the media and fans when a very good coach was canned. Look at Avery Johnson another good coach that was canned, were was the outcry. The public should not get so emotionally involved with the media and sports world hype. Not one sports organization or well paid sports star will be there when your company gives you the axe or the job is sent overseas. You purchase their memorabilia and they don’t even know your name. The sports media is perpeturating this mess.
    Focus on the people of the Gulf, what happens to them is a realization of what Business really think of us the common man/woman.

  21. Anonymous - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Does Jesse Jackson know how runaway slaves where treated???? That is the must insulting remark I have EVER heard. The way slaves got treated was down right nasty. And comparing that to a man that will make well over $100 million is just laughable. Just goes to show you how much racism is OVER when that is the best he can come up with…..

  22. Chris M from Los Angeles - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    What I read wasn’t a slave owner complaining about a slave. It was a really rich dude complaining how another rich dude hosed him over. Heaven forbid a someone complain about being screwed. It has to be racist right? Can’t just be business gone sour? Last time I checked, there was a black President. Jesse needs to remember this isn’t the 50’s anymore and get with the times.

  23. K-man - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    Why do we continue to make it appear that Jesse Jackson’s remarks are (or ever were) noteworthy?

  24. Jason - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    I have no problem with the owner ripping James. In fact, it needs to happen a lot more often about a lot more players. I’m referring to post game interviews when coaches baby the players when they play horribly. When your at your job and screw up the boss doesn’t baby you. He or she rips you. Why are people who make millions a year get babied like they are 5 years old who we don’t want their feelings hurt. Screw them. I watch them and enjoy them but quit treating them like children with high sensitivity levels. They say they are men but I highly question it. There is certainly no evidence of it. James was no man. He left the owner his teammates and fans in the dark to fulfill a self absorbed narcissistic take on himself to show how great I am hour long show. Disgusting. I was never a cleveland fan but I will certainly be one now. It is not about black or white. Its about being a decent human being. Disrespecting your (at the time) employer and entire city utterly deserves criticism.

  25. Bud - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    What a horses a** Jackson is, runaway slave at 111 million for 6 years, where do I sign up for that???? Jesse, word to the wise, haven’t had much to talk about lately, have you???? Shut the F**K up!!!!!

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