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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 EST

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. DEE - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    WOW!! All of this because one man decided to make a change in his life, yes I will repeat HIS life. His decision is no different than a man who works for a company in the US and gets the offer to become CEO, but the job is in Japan. He is going to make a decision based on what’s best for him. Back off people and focus on issues that are affecting our health, communities, and things that WE should be more interested in, LeBron does not owe US anything.

  2. Tired - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    Can I ask what Jessie is doing with his love child from the Rainbow Coalition.. If he would just focus on keeping both of his heads out of other peoples’ bizness he and the rest of America would be better off.

  3. truth - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    jesse jackson is an idiot. He doesn’t even deserve to have his name capitalized. He’s the only racist in any of this if you ask me.

  4. ariel - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    jessie jackson really wanted attention on hisself really badly, i just think his reaction is uncaused for and stupid…this is coming from a black person so its proof we dont all agree with his stupid comment, lebron is no victim, he wasnt even man enough to tell the owner, he’s no victim. what was jessie thinking other than wanting attention…he just saw an opportunity for himself to be a savior for someone who didnt need to be saved…. an opportunist!

  5. Ljph - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    I am an African-American woman, and you would have to be from the city of Cleveland to understand what is truly going on. I still love Lebron as a player, but the manner in which he left was totally inexcusable. We’re not mad that he left, it’s how he left. And Jesse Jackson, nor anyone else who is not from or does not live in this city would ever understand.

  6. D Todd - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    If the team owner had made the same idiotic statemenet he would have been crucified. Ah Jackson still making stupid statements for media attention at what point does he cross the line?

  7. Jim - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    Folks, Jesse Jackson has always been a money grabbin’,self centered not so bright person. Age is not going to change any
    of the afformentioned attributes of this aging clod.

  8. neutral observer - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Lebron gave gilbert and cleveland notice when he said he was going to test the free agency market. Thats as professional or courteous as it get. Read it again. Gilbert and the media response is absolutely racist. Look at Cliff lee and how he was traded, minds changed in 15 minutes no notice or apologies. All this hate on a guy who has been pimped from middle school. The whole world wanted Lebron and would have paid twice Clevland money, but because of the system he had to go to Clevland, this wasnt a favor to Lebron. Every year he s a money train. Gilbert knew this and brought the team. Now after seven years of indenture service he wants to revoke he rights of freedom Lebron has EARNED with his faithful and honorable labor and obeyance of the rules of the game, as was done to black indenture servant but not whites. The problem with Lebron is he didnt hate the players he learned the game. And outfoxxed ny, clev, and all of basketball without giving a clue of his intention, futhermore Wade and Bosh was faithful to their pact which was made with The King, three years ago and maintained the secret. That called team work and demonstrates how well they work together–to get there– to get there—-.Kobe had Shaq in his prime, the two best players in the league no one cried ,cried,cried ,cried foul. Now Kobe got Gasol best bigman ingame, he got Artest best man on man defender, Odom most versital player in the game, he got brynuw(too tall wall). All of the fore mentioned players would start on every,every,every nba team and be the man on 70% of the nba teams
    . Kobe got the best team owner,the best GM jerry west and phil jackson. all Lebron did was give himself a reasonable opportunity to win. All this from a guy who did not go to college or hate, he learned the game and thats what has everyone in power scared and made him public enemy#1 1 1.

  9. R - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Jesse Jackson is a true racist! Shut the hell up Jesse and go back to your rainbow coalition and sleep with another woman and have a child with her you adulterer!!!! Let business be business… you racist!

  10. Rick - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    What an insult to the slaves for comparing a soon to be billionaire to people that were tortured their entire lives. The average working person is more of a slave to their jobs than Lebron or any other professional athlete. I just can’t wait for Jackson to die, he openly hates Jews and I’m sure any other race that doesn’t match his. Shortly after Jackson and sharpton die people will stop seeing different races and treat everyone equally since they won’t be around to segregate us.

  11. SPK - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    Holy, turn-everything-in-to-racism, crap! Of course he has the right to leave the team. Of course the coach as the right to be upset about it. Just because James is black, it becomes a slavery comparison? For crying out loud! This is a huge double standard. So now, any black person that is critcized with or without validity, can blame it on racism or slavery? MLK talked about what it takes to “overcome”. Part of overcoming involves not looking to race to define every conflict. Of course people like Jesse Jackson (hypocrite) and Al Sharpton are simply attention mongers who gain personal recognition by exploiting these feelings in people of all color.

  12. Josh - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Ok, just a correction, Ohio wasn’t the birthplace of the Klan, but in the 1920′s it was somewhat centralized there, as an organization promoting white racism and protestant values. The Klan actually began much earlier in Tennessee. Ok, but regarding the Lebron James case, what people don’t seem to be getting is that A. Lebron wasn’t “owned” by Cleveland and had every right to leave and that B. Ostensibly, he was deciding till the last moment. Lebron was the “decider” in all this. Lebron’s free agency and eventual jump to Miami was actually a happy moment for American society, creating an NBA dream-team in Florida, boosting TV ratings all over the place, making people more upbeat even in the face of BP and the financial meltdown, and even causing an uptick in the stock market. For Gilbert (a billionaire, a man of real means) to announce publicly, with such venom and vitriol, that Lebron was a “traitor” and a type of human pond scum, and to fan the flame of people’s disappointment by saying that Lebron had intentionally hurt and betrayed them, and even to take out a full page ad in in a newspaper slandering Lebron and denigrating him, is simply outrageous. The “racial” element in all of this, which JJ has pointed out, is partly that Lebron, although financially priviledged and an NBA star, essentially worked for his NBA “owner”, who feels completely entitled to become enraged when Lebron exercises his American right to work where, and for whomever, he wants to. Some would say that even the NBA draft is a violation of these basic rights, however we can all agree that harassing, denigrating and in effect threatening Lebron simply because he is a free agent and makes a choice, is ugly and wrong. Sure, maybe Lebron was Gilbert’s golden goose, and without Lebron, his show doesn’t have a star, or whatever. But the vicious way that Gilbert’s attack was phrased, dripping with venom and delivered through teeth clenched with rage, says a lot about who he thinks he is, and who he thinks Lebron is. He didn’t use any real racial language, but in every sense he said very loud and clearly “just who the **** does Lebron think he is?”

  13. neutral observer - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Davidly,your reply to josh (7.10. 6:51am) painted a perfect picture. ——-futhermore no blasting of rothlieburger for second rape case. In first rape case ESPN ———ORDERED———all employees to not mentioned this story on air. TW still being blasted for consential sex. Not a fan of JJ, yet a broken clock is right twice a day.

  14. Buck DeVille - Jul 12, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    I DIDNT READ ANY OF THE COMMENTS. I AM A BLACK MAN. IM PROBABLY NOT “THE MOST” MILITANT PERSON READING THIS POST, BUT ENOUGH TO NOT BE BLINDED BY THE “IGNORE IT AND IT WILL GO AWAY” POLICY AMERICAN WHITES(AND UNCLE TOM BLACKS…SEE CLARENCE THOMAS) HAVE INFORCED ON THE NATIVE(REAL) AMERICANS, ASIANS, AFRICANS, MIDDLE AMERICANS, AND MIDDLE EASTERNS(COLLECTIVELY THE MAJORITY) OF THE WORLD….BUT C’MON SON. WHAT LEBRON DID WAS MORE ABOUT BETRAYAL THAN SLAVERY. HE HELD THE TEAM HOSTAGE, WHILE PUTTING ON HIS OWN PARADE. BASKETBALL IS A TEAM SPORT. LEBRON REALLY HURT THAT TEAM BY MAKING THEM WAIT TILL ALL THE GOOD FREE AGENTS WERE GONE AND THEN SPIT IN THE FACE BY DOING IT ON NATIONAL TV WITHOUT INFORMING THEM. THATS WHERE YOU CALL HOME SON? I WOULDNT BE MAD IF LEBRON DIDNT WANT TO GO FIGHT IN A WAR THAT HE DIDNT BELIEVE IN(I.E. MUHAMMAD ALI), HOWEVER YOU CHOOSE TO HOLD THE FANS OF CLEVELAND HOSTAGE, AND LEAVE THEM ALL HANGING. LEBRON SUCKS….ALSO FOR THE RECORD. IM A LAKER FAN!!!! IT DOESNT MATTER TO ME ANYWAY. JESSE LOST MY RESPECT WITH HIS OBAMA STATEMENTS WHAT A HATER!!!

  15. B. Sklig - Jul 12, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    Give me a break, Why does Mr. Jackson feel the need to throw the race card out there, just because he feels it fits his agenda ? What a bunch of S**t! Just because LeBron is black does not give you the right to throw the race card out there. All atheles, white , black, mexican, cuban , which ever race they are actually slaves to the owners of their perspective clubs, be it football, basketball, baseball, soccer , which ever sport it is. You didn’t hear anyone throwing the race card out there when David Beckham left Eurpoean football to play for the L.A. Galaxy in the United States, did they ? NO , but because LeBron is black it was alright. All people who work for someone else are slaves. They tell us when to show up for work, when to leave, when to take lunch or when to take break. They tell you what to do, or how they want it done. They pay you the salary they want, not the salary that you want. And if you are a good employee they get upset when you leave them for a better oppurtunity. So how is it that what Mr. Gilbert said any different than any other employer owner would say if they lost a good employee other than the fact that it’s a professional sport and he is a white owner and LeBron is a black player and his comments make the morning paper. Now had he made a derogitory comment about LeBron and his race then you go ahead and pull your card , but in this case that is not what happened. I am Mexican but no one jumps to my defense when someone makes a taco comment but let one person say something in the neighborhood of african american culture and its the end of the world. This is why we will always have race issues. Yes there is racism, but it’s just not a black and white thing.

  16. BUCK DeVILLE - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    I DIDNT READ ANY OF THE COMMENTS. I AM A BLACK MAN. IM PROBABLY NOT “THE MOST” MILITANT PERSON READING THIS POST, BUT ENOUGH TO NOT BE BLINDED BY THE “IGNORE IT AND IT WILL GO AWAY” POLICY AMERICAN WHITES(AND UNCLE TOM BLACKS…SEE CLARENCE THOMAS) HAVE INFORCED ON THE NATIVE(REAL) AMERICANS, ASIANS, AFRICANS, MIDDLE AMERICANS, AND MIDDLE EASTERNS(COLLECTIVELY THE MAJORITY) OF THE WORLD….BUT C’MON SON. WHAT LEBRON DID WAS MORE ABOUT BETRAYAL THAN SLAVERY. HE HELD THE TEAM HOSTAGE, WHILE PUTTING ON HIS OWN PARADE. BASKETBALL IS A TEAM SPORT. LEBRON REALLY HURT THAT TEAM BY MAKING THEM WAIT TILL ALL THE GOOD FREE AGENTS WERE GONE AND THEN SPIT IN THE FACE BY DOING IT ON NATIONAL TV WITHOUT INFORMING THEM. THATS WHERE YOU CALL HOME SON? I WOULDNT BE MAD IF LEBRON DIDNT WANT TO GO FIGHT IN A WAR THAT HE DIDNT BELIEVE IN(I.E. MUHAMMAD ALI), HOWEVER YOU CHOOSE TO HOLD THE FANS OF CLEVELAND HOSTAGE, AND LEAVE THEM ALL HANGING. LEBRON SUCKS….ALSO FOR THE RECORD. IM A LAKER FAN!!!! IT DOESNT MATTER TO ME ANYWAY. JESSE LOST MY RESPECT WITH HIS OBAMA STATEMENTS WHAT A HATER!!!

  17. JimminyCricket - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    Is slavery coming back?
    You know jessie jackson and all the other blacks who hate white people seem to forget it was the white man who freed them!
    Read your civil wasr history!

  18. JimmenyCricket - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    Hey BUCK
    Guess what? White people actually fought to free the black slaves…..read a little history, Hater!

  19. OKN - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    Jesse, Jesse, Jesse. When are you going to learn that sometime you should shut the f#@* up? Wait, sorry, that’s why you make these comments right? What would you do if you didn’t have some thing to stir up and get yourself in the limelight. I’m waiting for Al Sharpton to voice his opinion as well. Wait for it….wait for it….go Andy, I mean Jesse, or was it Al, for that 15 minutes of fame….lol.
    I don’t really think anyone had the right to say what they said in this situation. Lebron made his choice, you go Lebron, get that championship. You deserve the best shot at it. Otherwise, everyone else stop whining and crying, please. And, for God’s sake, Jesse, mind your own damn business. I love yah and you’ve had a great impact on many things, but this is not one of them.

  20. kevin - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    if it was dan marrino leaving the dolphins at 26,jordan leaving the bulls at 26,peyton manning leaving the colts at 26,larry bird leaving boston at 26,magic johnson leaving the lakers at 26,joe montana or jerry rice leaving the 49ers at 26,………well maybe there might of been a public out cry and it maybe or maybe not louder then the ohio fan but its wrong………..the ohio fan loves thier players,team,and sports very much……….they look at players and former players as one of them an ohioan and one of and part of thier families. you dont even have to win a championship for us to be loyal and for us to cheer,love,and look at you as our hall of famer for life.if your proud of us,your team,and our state then we will be loyal and proud of you forever!!!! ask bernie kosar,jim brown,paul warfield,kevin mack,austin carr,nate thurman,campy russell,jim chones,doug dekin,reggie langhorn,clay mathews,bob golic,mike golic(fromcleveland),brad daurghty,mark price,larry nance,sandy alomar jr,omar vizuel,robbie alomar,pat tabler,joe carter,kenny loften,ect……………..no we havnt had a championship or was fortunate to see and watch jim brown play while we were alive for alot of us. our pride our loyality and love for our players and teams is for and is what no other city or state can or would understand. our homestate and hometown kid played for our cavs. we were proud,loyal,happy,cheering and warmed our hearts that our leader and captain was born and raised a buckie and one of our own kids.when he told the world we werent good enough for him it stabbed our hearts and made it feel like it was ripped out. it hurt real bad from ohio fans,lebron’s teammates,and even our organazation as a whole…. lebron was one of us born and raised he preached family because he new what ohio fans were about,he preached loyality because he new how loyal we were…..well it hurt to see and watch our hometown and homestate kid say we werent good enough for him. it was like watching a brother,son,cuzo say im going to a new family… BUT IN NO SHAPE OR FORM DID LEBRON DESERVE THIS PUBLIC BACKLASH OUT OF HURT AND ABANDMENT,REJECTION,SADDNESS AND FOR SOME EVEN TURNED TO ANGER…IM A OHIO FAN NOT FROM CLEVELAND BUT HAVE CONSIDERD OHIO AS A WHOLE A TEAM AS MANY DOES AND FROM ALL OHIO WE AND IM SORRY LEBRON GOOD LUCK IN LIFE AND BASKETBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SORRY LEBRON!!!!! THIS BACKLASH ON LEBRON WAS AND IS WRONG!!!!!! THIS OUT CRY WAS AND IS WRONG IT WASNT RASISM BUT IT WAS AND IS WRONG!! BUT THE OUT CRY AND ATTACKING SOMEONES SELF WORTH OR FAMILY IS VERY MUCH OUT OF HAND AND VERY SINNFULLAND WRONG!!!!!! FOR SOMEONE TO THROW RACE INTO THIS IS JUST AS MUCH WRONG AS THE PUBLIC OUT CRY!!!!!!!!

  21. Kevin D. - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    I didn’t really see anything racist with Gilbert’s comments. Unprofessional and emotional, absolutely. I think Lebron was also unprofessional. Give your employer a couple week’s notice. I really think that this whole thing with Lebron, Wade and Bosh was collusion. Think about it. They made some of their East Coast rivals (NY, NJ, Chicago) deplete their rosters. Then they left Cleveland with no time to make decisions to replace Lebron. That’s at least 4 teams that could have spent their time working on other deals.
    Most of Gilbert’s players are black. He’d have a hard time doing his job if he didn’t have their support.
    The last thing Jesse Jackson wants on this Earth is for blacks to be equal to whites. He wouldn’t have a job otherwise. He injects race at the drop of a hat. He has other intentions. I think that Jesse Jackson is a disgrace to Martin Luther King Jr. Yeah, I’m white but I’m still entitled to my opinion. I voted for Obama because I thought he was the best of the two candidates for president. It’s 2010. Are we really still concerned about race? Like I said if we all held hands in harmony, Jackson’s head would explode.

  22. Kevin D. - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    I didn’t really see anything racist with Gilbert’s comments. Unprofessional and emotional, absolutely. I think Lebron was also unprofessional. Give your employer a couple week’s notice. I really think that this whole thing with Lebron, Wade and Bosh was collusion. Think about it. They made some of their East Coast rivals (NY, NJ, Chicago) deplete their rosters. Then they left Cleveland with no time to make decisions to replace Lebron. That’s at least 4 teams that could have spent their time working on other deals.
    Most of Gilbert’s players are black. He’d have a hard time doing his job if he didn’t have their support.
    The last thing Jesse Jackson wants on this Earth is for blacks to be equal to whites. He wouldn’t have a job otherwise. He injects race at the drop of a hat. He has other intentions. I think that Jesse Jackson is a disgrace to Martin Luther King Jr. Yeah, I’m white but I’m still entitled to my opinion. I voted for Obama because I thought he was the best of the two candidates for president. It’s 2010. Are we really still concerned about race? Like I said if we all held hands in harmony, Jackson’s head would explode.

  23. joe - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    What a scumbag. How about the fact white people dont get a fair shot to play in the NBA? Jesse Jackson has been a non-factor for 10 years. Maybe he is bored because he has stopped being a womanizer.

  24. Fred Groenke - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    While I don’t live in northern Ohio, I once did, I can’t see how they are acting like this was an ambush.LeBron sent them signals sometime ago when he was seen wearing a Yankee cap at an Indians game. Also, he was seen wearing a Dallas Cowboy hat at a Brown’s game. He had already written off the area. Clevelanders need to learn to read the tea leaves. Art Modell told those people that he was going to leave the area three years before he moved the Browns and no one in Cleveland believed him. I feel sad for them but they need to understand that sports is a business and nothing more.

  25. Mark - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    Last I checked, freedom of speech was still ok, or a good thing. Gilbert didn’t break a law hear, just expressed how he feels. But now people want to look deep and bust out the race card. What a pitty. How did Bosh make it known that he was going to the Heat?. Yep, you guessed it, not the same way King Ego did. Now if King Ego KNEW he was going to Miami as far back as the Olympics, then why not just announce his agreement to sign with Miami on July 1st like the others were doing?….DO YA GET IT NOW?…LEBRON IS NOWHERE NEAR AS HUMBLE AS OTHER PLAYERS

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