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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. JSAX - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:38 AM

    Kevin, you are a fool. The issue is an owner losing a star player and has absolutely NO RELATION or comparison to slavery. What if Gilbert were black or James were white? Do you think Gilbert would have reacted any differently? No, but Jesse Jackson would have.

  2. paul mock - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:38 AM

    Is this America or not? We don’t live in communist China! Lebron has a right to play where he wants to play. And what’s all this talk about loyalty! When a team is through with a player they either trade him or don’t renew his contract. After that tirade by Mr. Gilbert why would Lebron want to stay in Cleveland? Mr. Gilbert let the world know how he truly felt about Lebron. As to the issue of race it is unfortunate but true that racism is still alive and well in America. Why do we act as if racism is not weaved in the fabric of America’s quilt. Yes I am a Black man, who gets up every morning and earns a living just like the majority of Black men living in this country. Has anyone looked at our soldiers fighting over in Iraq and Afghanistan? There are many Black men fighting for and losing their lives just like white men.

  3. FieryJack - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:40 AM

    Are we sure Jackson isn’t picking on Gilbert because he is Jewish? After all, Jesse Jackson has a history of making vitriolic anti-Semitic remarks.

  4. Anthony - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    Let’s start by saying, I don’t think you are qualified to speak for us black men & you definitely have lapsed on your recollection of black history. You also defended Gilbert’s statements which proves that you are also morally lacking. Would you have such an opinion if they traded LeBron 3 years ago? Do you think LeBron would’ve reacted as ignorantly in a public statement as Gilbert? Of course not! Why would he work for an owner with less class, knowledge & work ethic than himself. Give me a break. Your opinion is a joke & so is Gilbert.
    Con Respeto Y Ganas!

  5. bob - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    This is Jesse’s stock in trade. Jackson made himself a multi-millionaire selling racism insurance. Don’t want to be labeed racist? Buy insurance from Rainbow-Push. Or else!

  6. E Root - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:49 AM

    once again Mr Jackson proves just how irrelevant he really is… his opinion is always that of “from the clowns perspective” or “here’s the opinion of a tactless media/attention whore.”
    Always good for a laugh from the person that has done more damage to the African American race than any white person ever could. He’s the one that keeps blacks from being taken seriously. He wont allow it.

  7. Andrew - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    For the first time in a while, I actually agree with Jesse Jackson. What he said is not about race, but it is about mental manipulation, just like slave owners used.

  8. RJC - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    I believe Rev Jackson may be off base in this area. Unless he is privledge to more detail than the owner of the team, I believe Rev Jackson should maintain silence on this issue. At least Rev Jackson should gather more facts. Mr James was getting a great salary, and receiving all the other perks because the owner of the Cavs allowed Mr James to be on his team.
    I don’t have a problem with Rev Jackson or anybody else questioning a decision, however one should have all the facts before criticizing.

  9. Anthony - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    As my friends from western europe constantly remind me, racism is so prevalent here because the Caucasian public seems to act like it doesn’t exist. You can’t get over an issue when you are in denial but I guess you don’t have to when ? out of 100 Senators are black. Oops, that would be ZERO! Gilbert only proved that LeBron made the right choice. Picture Pat Riley acting like that if LeBron left (HELLLLL Know), too much class to be so small & ignorant as a human.

  10. readTheRealStory - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:55 AM

    Jesse Jackson NEVER talks about race in the entire article. He’s talking about the concept free agency. Read for yourself. http://bit.ly/cHzCir

  11. whitey - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    Were those comments nescessary oldtimer? why are you so angry? must be a little truth to what jesse is saying for you to react like that. what has a black man done to you that a white man hasnt? let me guess, you are a baby bommer arent you? no worries, your kind are dying off quickly. time will remove your people and your thoughts on race, and not until then this world will be a better place.

  12. readTheRealStory - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:58 AM

    Jesse Jackson NEVER talks about race in the entire article. He’s talking about the concept free agency. Read for yourself. http://bit.ly/cHzCir

  13. Miserable Delinquent - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:58 AM

    Kevin, to race hustlers like you, “Pop Goes the Weasel” strikes a racist tone.

  14. mack - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:58 AM

    oh come jackson, get off the slavery dwelling kick. when i hear him talk i think about that old phrase, ” IT IS BETTER FOR SOMEONE TO THINK YOU ARE STUPID, THAN TO OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND REMOVE ALL DOUBT”. black or white if you work for someone you should have the decency to let your employer know that you are going to leave, sorry “JESSE” i dont mean to burst your racial bubble but that is not racist. here is a tidbit for you, maybe you should start looking at the actions and not the skin color!! oops that might mean you would have to hold you and other blacks accountable for their actions…heaven forbid that should happen.
    STOP DWELLING JESSE, GROW UP!!!! (IF IT IS NOT TOO LATE)

  15. Anthony - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:59 AM

    Dude, I’ve seen far more bullets than most. Please don’t try to act like our country is under threat of being taken over by Afghanistan or by Iraq! We control those countries natural resources & the contracts for rebuilding them (Big Dough)! Real fighters don’t act like their little sister is a threat! Our service men & women should be commended because they honor their orders but the uncaring, lazy, profiteers are the ones who sent them. You should go plug that hole in the Gulf instead of criticizing persons who have helped millions more humans than yourself buddy. Just my opinion, I could be wrong :)

  16. AZ Lady - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:02 AM

    I second that motion.

  17. Kris Johnson - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    While LeBron was supposedly giving his best to the guy who was paying him millions of dollars, he was secretly colluding to join another team. He and his accomplices have admitted to this repeatedly. Nicky Arinson the owners son and Pat Riley also had a role in putting this together before the negotiating period began. All 3 signed contracts that would be less than the maximum period so that Miami could have time to rid themselves of contracts and salary space. Then they talked about going together to Miami, then they denied it when they were warned that it was not allowed to make these decisions before free agency began. Then they played thimble theater and pretended that they didnt know what LBJ would do. Then he goes on TV and spits on his old team, who mortgaged their future to put a competitive team around him with Shaq, Jameson, #1 draft pick to Washington, and bringing back Ilgauskas. They did not take less money to go to Miami. They have arrangements to use the stadium for personal use that will create millions. They have endorsements, and they have potential for more if they win a championship. Pat Riley sold his soul and will regret it. The 3 Kings act like the 3 stooges. I had varying degrees of respect for all three, now I have disdain for all three. Not that they care what the fans think. They’re rich and were stupid. Jesse Jackson is a racist! Gilbert paid for a service and a championship. He got part of it. LeBron started the BS with his public dumping of Cleveland. He could have called the owner and explained his decision like a man. Instead he made it a publicity stunt. He is the one who showed no loyalty or class to a man who treated him like a prince.

  18. mack - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    oh come jackson, get off the slavery dwelling kick. when i hear him talk i think about that old phrase, ” IT IS BETTER FOR SOMEONE TO THINK YOU ARE STUPID, THAN TO OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND REMOVE ALL DOUBT”. black or white if you work for someone you should have the decency to let your employer know that you are going to leave, sorry “JESSE” i dont mean to burst your racial bubble but that is not racist. here is a tidbit for you, maybe you should start looking at the actions and not the skin color!! oops that might mean you would have to hold you and other blacks accountable for their actions…heaven forbid that should happen.
    STOP DWELLING JESSE, GROW UP!!!! (IF IT IS NOT TOO LATE)

  19. Kris Johnson - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    Hell Know is spelled Hell No – If you’re gonna call someone ignorant at least know how to spell.

  20. ars9x - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    Regardless of what he meant, he used slavery as a comparison in the situation. That is wrong and you know it. It also minimizes what slavery really meant and JJ should be ashamed just for that reason alone.

  21. Paul - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    For $15 million a year, I will volunteer to be on that plantation. This reminds me of Larry Johnson when he was with the Knicks calling them the “rebellious slaves” and “field negros” who then referred to AJ and he as coming from the same plantation because their last name was the same.
    Look racism is real and hurtful. We dont need a guy who went on the tonight show in a goat blood stained shirt claiming to have held the dying MLK trying to tell me that someone making $15 million dollars a year is a slave. Get real!

  22. NRESQ - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:16 AM

    Dude, you’re a freakin’ moron! Mental manipulation? Wasn’t LeBron already gone to Miami when Gilbert made the statements? Who was he manipulating? Whatever the f*ck slave owners did to slaves has nothing to do with this situation. Gilbert lost LeBron and he was disappointed and said some stupid (for an NBA owner) things. THAT’S IT. The rest is fantasy and says more about you than anything else.

  23. FringeDivision - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:17 AM

    This Reverse Racist Jackson is like an ambulance chaser, only he chases the Newspaper reporter vehicles. He was already proven to be a liar with the statements he has made in the past, he enjoys enciting the paid racists protesters that fat slob Rev Al has on his payroll, and now, an owner only spoke the truth about Lebron when he threw in the towel against the Celtics, and how Lebron is nothing but a backstabbing weasel Benedict Arnold. He couldn’t get the job done in Cleveland after Gibert and the city of Cleveland gave everything to this loser. If I were Gilbert, I’d have a lot more to say about Cleveland, and I would make sure, that Lebron gets the message that he is NOT welcome in Ohio anymore. Maybe for Lebron to do is to move his family out of Cleveland for saftey sake, especially when this moron Jackson encites the locals, and get a race riot brewing, so he & that fat slob Rev Al can have more face time in the papers and on TV.

  24. FringeDivision - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:18 AM

    This Reverse Racist Jackson is like an ambulance chaser, only he chases the Newspaper reporter vehicles. He was already proven to be a liar with the statements he has made in the past, he enjoys enciting the paid racists protesters that fat slob Rev Al has on his payroll, and now, an owner only spoke the truth about Lebron when he threw in the towel against the Celtics, and how Lebron is nothing but a backstabbing weasel Benedict Arnold. He couldn’t get the job done in Cleveland after Gibert and the city of Cleveland gave everything to this loser. If I were Gilbert, I’d have a lot more to say about Cleveland, and I would make sure, that Lebron gets the message that he is NOT welcome in Ohio anymore. Maybe for Lebron to do is to move his family out of Cleveland for saftey sake, especially when this moron Jackson encites the locals, and get a race riot brewing, so he & that fat slob Rev Al can have more face time in the papers and on TV.

  25. FringeDivision - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:18 AM

    This Reverse Racist Jackson is like an ambulance chaser, only he chases the Newspaper reporter vehicles. He was already proven to be a liar with the statements he has made in the past, he enjoys enciting the paid racists protesters that fat slob Rev Al has on his payroll, and now, an owner only spoke the truth about Lebron when he threw in the towel against the Celtics, and how Lebron is nothing but a backstabbing weasel Benedict Arnold. He couldn’t get the job done in Cleveland after Gibert and the city of Cleveland gave everything to this loser. If I were Gilbert, I’d have a lot more to say about Cleveland, and I would make sure, that Lebron gets the message that he is NOT welcome in Ohio anymore. Maybe for Lebron to do is to move his family out of Cleveland for saftey sake, especially when this moron Jackson encites the locals, and get a race riot brewing, so he & that fat slob Rev Al can have more face time in the papers and on TV.

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