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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. ars9x - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:22 AM

    Regardless of what he meant, he used slavery as a comparison in the situation.Slavery IS about race. You are slanting the story to waht you believe. After reading it i feel the same as when I just saw the quotes. There is NOTHING to take out of context.
    It is wrong and you know it. It also minimizes what slavery really meant and JJ should be ashamed just for that reason alone.

  2. mack - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    dude i agree with you. racist idiots would not understand the truth in your words. oh by the wat i am black and you hit the nail on the head!!!!

  3. readTheRealStory - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:28 AM

    I’m a Cavs fan, but this whole Conspiracy Theory argument is utterly ridiculous. If that’s how people feel about LRJ, then why cry about him leaving? Clearly you fail to realize that TEAMS win championships, not individual players. You also fail to realize that James’ contract with the Cavs ended at 23:59:59 on 6/30/10. NBA players are contracted employees; in James’ case the contract ended and he had unrestricted freedom to do whatever he wanted to do. No where in the contract, and more importantly, no where in the Collective Bargaining Agreement does it say “THE PLAYER MUST BE LOYAL TO THE OWNER, THE TEAM, AND THE FAN BASE AT THE END OF THE CONTRACT”. To think in such a way is to have a slave plantation mentality. To think the way you do, Kris, confirms what Jesse Jackson is saying.

  4. Common Sense - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    When is Black America going to realize that Jesse Jackson and race is irrelevant. There is a black man in the White House. What else could you possibly want. There has never been a woman or a native american President.
    Accept that you are part of this society and color has nothing to do with it. On the otherhand you are defending Mr. Hime town. Now that is not racist is it?

  5. Anthony - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    I guess you didn’t get the inference. I said (Hellllll Know) for a reason. Use more than your eyes… try reading between the lines, sir. 😉

  6. Jimsjam33 - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:33 AM

    Jesse Jackson is irrevelent in this matter , but he is entitled to his opinion . ‘Nuff said .
    Lebron is a man and men make tough decisions . He has been an honest man and was a good public relations foundation for the City of Cleveland . Now , that era is over and Cleveland is looking to clean up their image .
    May I suggest that Gilbert look into obtaining that center from Chicago . You know the one that said , ” Who cares about
    Cleveland . Do you know anybody that ever said , ” Let’s go on vacation to Cleveland . ”
    Classic !

  7. the shark - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    What Dan Gilbert said was just plain old upset bitter & discussed. Its fair game when it comes to free agency anyway. That’s his fault for letting LB get away. What if Dan and Lebron was talking about him stay in Cleveland and Lebron said no. Same thing probably would of happen anyway. So therefore, we don’t need to bring race in this issue. Remember, its free will if you have no contract.

  8. readTheRealStory - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    SLAVERY IS ABOUT CONTROL. Lookup the terms “reserve clause”, “Curt Flood”, “slavery”, and “free agency”. You have to be COMPLETELY blind and ignorant to think that Jackson is talking about race, nor does he suggest that racism was involved. JACKSON IS TALKING ABOUT CONTROL OF AN INDIVIDUAL ATHLETE. Individual athletes whose contracts have expired have no obligation whatsoever to be loyal to a team! BTW: While looking up those terms above, research where “racism” really is. Racism has absolutely NOTHING to do with this!

  9. Anonymous - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    Bottom line, money is the root of this, just like any other sports franchise today…It’s clearly a situation where one of the best players in the league decides to leave a team that looked to him to save them. he honored his contract and made the decision to move on. Gilbert knows that by losing Lebron means losing major dollars..simple as that!

  10. Montana - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:48 AM

    Racism works BOTH ways! That is what the black people don’t get! There are more black players than white players in the nba. Do white people cry about it? NO! So jesse jackson should talk to sara palin and go away.

  11. readTheRealStory - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:48 AM


  12. ShortDawg - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:54 AM

    When I first read the letter from Dan Gilbert, the first thing I thought was, he thinks he owns Lebron. That’s where the slave comment from Jesse Jackson probably comes from. Just because Lebron got paid millions of dollars by Gilbert and the Cavs, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the right to make a business decision that’s best for him and his family. Gilbert may have felt betrayed but he should have just shut up and moved on. Now see how many black players want to go play in Cleveland. Lebron made a good business decision and Gilbert made a bad one.

  13. scott - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    Jesse Jacksons is a racist.

  14. Anonymous - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    Does anyone really care what Jesse Jackson has to say anymore? He has lost his credibility over the years with his racist antics, his fathering a child with a woman while married to another woman, etc. i can’t believe any community would lift him up on a pedestal and listen to him…Jesse just wants power, that is it…move on Jesse, there are better role models and leaders to model our behavior after…

  15. fredappl - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:59 AM

    Musta been a slow day in the hood huh Jess. But hey Jess, do know where the hood is????? The only time you show up in your big car and cameras is when you think you can get some face time in an effort to exploit the people you lay claim to. You’re a parasite.
    Jesse, YOU are the last thing in the world that the “other than white” population of our country needs. Jesse, if things are so slow for you, go find another distraction, you’ve done it before and I’d be willing to bet you’ve done it again.
    Hey Rev: “The Devil Made Me Do It”.

  16. ars9x - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:59 AM

    DO CAPS MAKE YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND???? sheesh,SLAVERY IS RACE! There, have my caps convinced you?

  17. Montana - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:03 AM

    I read the article and he talks about slavery. Tell me, how many black owners take care of everybody that comes with the player. Dan Gilbert did that for LeBum and his drop-out entourage of friends. I’m a Democrat and even I am slowly getting tired of how you black people think you are owed. Martin Luther King would not be happy with what he sees today. Geeze, you need to understand what happened to the city of Cleveland. You need to understand where and what cities built America before money drives everything. Hell, go to school for crying out loud and learn. this is a basketball player that has run out areas to put more tattoos on his body. He didn’t come up for a cure with cancer. He didn’t even go to college. God, Mother, Father and Family are role models not what we see in the nba an baseball.

  18. Montana - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:10 AM

    Ah, but what Cleveland doesn’t have that other major big cities do have:

  19. NRESQ - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:13 AM

    Jackson used the slaveowner-slave analogy, and therefore made race an issue, and perhaps the central issue, in the story. In fact, Jackson’s comments deal with ALL NBA PLAYERS, BLACK AND WHITE, since they all use the same contract and are all subject to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. So why would Jackson use the slave analogy if he didn’t intend to inject race into the issue? It was calculated on Jackson’s part, and a tragedy that the press still treats Jackson seriously.

  20. readTheRealStory - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:15 AM

    I did a freakin’ research paper on slavery around the world! While slavery in America was about race, that’s not the predominant case globally. Wikipedia will tell you that. Geez!! Jesse Jackson was NOT talking about the slavery of African Americans. He was not talking about race. Do you some research on “Curt Flood” and the “reserve clause” so that you can make an intelligent argument. In professional sports circles the “reserve clause” is synonymous with slavery. Free Agency eradicated that. (I’m not trying to offend you, but you’re clearly not understanding key concepts that Jackson talks about. In addition he never once talks about race).

  21. Dave - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:15 AM

    Why does anybody care what Jesse Jackson says? What an idiot. Why is it ALWAYS about race with him? I’ll tell you why. Because he is irrelevant in every other discussion that has to do with the human race, including God. Jesse Jackson is a completely worthless automaton that has no business commenting on anything. Go away already.

  22. Jones - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:19 AM

    Once again, just like politics and everything else, we see how these issues show the big divide between races. Majority of blacks will be for Lebron because we understand the undertones of what Dan Gilbert was saying and majority of whites will be for Dan because you see nothing wrong with it because Lebron is getting paid good money. Dan is mad that he got played by a 25 year old black man from the projects. He could not buy Lebron and that didn’t sit well with him.

  23. Montana - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:20 AM

    Pat Riley. Can you say TAMPERING! Remember, this is the guy who had the lickers lose to get, “The Infector”, earvin johnson. They lost on purpose to get him. Then this brilliant commissioner changed the rules that teams couldn’t lose on purpose to get the number one pick. Yes, he wears his hair like that for a reason. He’s a greaseball. Wait until the all colleges say to these athletes, for instance, you want to come to Texas, you come here for 4 years. Then, what will happen? I mean actually go to school! By the way, the nba is fixed. Just listen to what the Commish always says during the playoffs.

  24. readTheRealStory - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:27 AM

    Jesse Jackson was not talking about race. He never used the word race, bigot, prejudice, etc. Just because an African American makes a statement in defense of another person who happens to be African American doesn’t mean that race is the issue. Study key terms that Jackson talks about and you understand what he was really saying. (HINT: reserve clause, free agency, Curt Flood).

  25. NRESQ - Jul 12, 2010 at 2:31 AM

    Look, I appreciate your attempt to educate me on what YOU think Jackson means or meant. You wrote a paper so obviously you’re an expert on race and American race relations. However, I’m not buying what you’re selling; in fact, I think at best you’re being naïve. I don’t need to “do me some research” to know that Jackson deliberately used the slave analogy, and he did so to inflame. This was irresponsible and unnecessary. There were lots of other analogies he could have used, but that’s not what he’s about. Finally, why are you and Jackson talking about the reserve clause? The NBA never had it, and there is no issue that LeBron could go where he wanted. That’s what he did. So why is Jackson even alluding to the reserve clause at all?

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